Book Review: Secrets From The Lost Bible by Kenneth Hanson

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Secrets From The Lost Bible

Secrets From The Lost Bible by Kenneth Hanson, PH.D.

Genre: Non-Fiction
Pub Date: 2004
Publisher: Council Oak Books
Length: 221 pages
Paperback : Local Library (£7.39)

‘Hidden away for centuries, these rediscovered ancient texts reveal vital knowledge to empower humankind.’ Back cover blurb.

 

Wow, a pretty bold claim – ‘knowledge to empower humankind’.

Dr. Kenneth Hanson presents us with a number of texts; some which may be partially familiar – Adam and Eve and the Tree of Knowledge, and the less familiar (to myself) Bel and the Dragon, along with previously unknown stories about familiar Biblical figures. I say partially because, as Hanson reveals, even the Biblical texts we may be familiar with have sections missing.

The Dead Sea Scrolls, for those who have never heard of them are, briefly, scrolls – or fragments of scrolls, that have been discovered/uncovered in caves near The Dead Sea. Some date back to the 8th century BCE (Before Common Era), and are written in Hebrew, Aramaic and some in Greek; the initial discovery being made in 1947 by a Bedouin shepherd. Since then around 8oo plus scrolls have been found; mostly fragmented. They are divided into Biblical and non-Biblical, with for example, 25 copies of Deuteronomy, texts on law, psalms and more.

Now, I have to make a confession here – I have not yet completed reading Secrets From The Lost Bible – It is, to be honest, taking me forever, but I do only read a bit at a time, plus, I keep re-reading sections (I also have a habit of having two or three books on the go at once). This is one of those books that you read a little at a time and absorb before progressing. It is to be sipped, not gulped – mulled over, not galloped through.

The Dead Sea Scrolls are essentially suppressed writings. Historically, Religious leaders, and possibly political leaders, have excluded them from Judeo-Christian teachings, as they do not conform to what they want society to conform to, namely, their own leadership. The texts have been called heretical by some, revelatory to others. They fit into the bracket – if one must be used – of mystical writings. Take this extract for example, sub-titled Eden’s Children,

‘This book of The Lost Bible (which I present here in paraphrase) teaches that the soul, far from being corrupt, is pure, eternal, and birthed in Paradise:

Happy is the one who came into being…In Paradise there are five trees which no one disturbs year round; and their leaves never fall. If you come to know them, you will never know spiritual death.’

Essentially, the Gospel of Thomas is telling us that we, each individual, is not only born innocent (as opposed to the church’s teaching on Original Sin), but that we can each find Knowledge ourselves – without the need of a Religious Leader. That alone is enough to set many conservative/mainstream Christian’s/Jewish teeth on edge, goodness knows what the Creationists make of it.The Gospel of Thomas was declared Gnostic heresy, and promptly filtered from their system –  Gnosticism and the Kabbalah have been criticised by those wishing to keep their sheep on the straight and narrow – as they perceive it.

Hanson guides us through selected texts with explanations, he examines what lessons may have been lost when those who decided which books to include in the Bible and Torah made their decision to exclude these. He is non-judgemental, he does not lay blame, he simply offers us the works and a way to understand them, and why they may have been excluded. Hanson offers everyone, not just people who follow a religion, a way of understanding the hidden way to find harmony with…. well, if you do not believe in a god, it would be yourself and the universe.

I am finding the book a very interesting read. Hanson provides insights and fills in holes found in the traditional Bible. If you are a theology scholar, I recommend you add this to your reading list. His writing style is very easy and he provides us with short anecdotes of his own personal moments of realisation, and he is joyous in his writing, which can be a rarity in academic circles, certainly not stuffy.

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Section of Dead Sea scroll 

Just because you are a ‘good’ Christian/Jew/Methodist/ETC, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t question what’s in the bible, it has flaws, why does it have flaws? Because it was written by men, and moreover, men who have decided to withhold information from us.

Kenneth Hanson, Ph. D. is an associate professor in the University of Central Florida Judaic studies program and scholar of Hebrew language and literature. He is the author of Blood Kin of Jesus, Dead Sea Scrolls: The Untold Story and Kabbalah: Three Thousand Years of Mystic Tradition.

 

I’m giving Secrets From The Lost Bible, 5 stars

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Review: Safe (Netflix UK)

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Currently – On Netflix (UK)

Starring – Michael C. Hall, Amanda Abbington, Audrey Fleurot, Marc Warren

Genre – Drama. Thriller

Writer Harlan Coben

Premièred10th May 2018

 

*Spoilers Ahead*

Widowed surgeon Tom has struggled to raise his two daughters alone following his wife’s death a year ago. Things seem to be on the right track for the family, who live in a gated community, because they have close friends nearby and Tom is in the early stages of a new relationship. But the situation takes a turn for the worse when Jenny, Tom’s oldest daughter, goes missing along with her boyfriend.

 

So here’s an interesting collaboration – American crime writer; Harlan Coben, American lead; Michael C. Hall. British locations; Liverpool, Manchester, Cheshire. Primarily English cast; Amanda Abbington, Marc Warren, etc. French ‘suspect’; Audrey Fleurot. Networks,English, French, International.

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Det. Sergeant Sophie Mason and Tom Delaney 

I have a number of issues with this show:

Problem #1 – England: Tom Delaney and his children; and the rest of the cast; apart from Pete (Marc Warren) and ‘Bobby’ (Milo Twomey), live in a gated community – so far so good. However, the reason we are given that it is a gated community is an event that occurred many years earlier – when the current adults were teenagers – at the local school, resulting in the deaths of a number of children. So to ‘protect’ themselves from outside danger, they walled themselves off – this suggests that the school itself is within the gated community. I do not know if such communities even exist in the UK, sure, there are small gated estates, but that’s just residential. Smacks of America.

Problem #2 – Idiot family: So you’re having a party for your mates whilst the parents are away for the night. You discover someone either unconscious or dead aaaaand… you don’t call an ambulance! REALLY?! You have to be kidding. Then dad decides not to get help and ‘hides’ the body! REALLY?! You are fucking joking. Mum colludes (‘cos basically she’s an airhead). They then send texts to the ‘missing’ boy’s family thus ensuring they think he is still alive! WTF?! The reason given for their sorry excuse for not alerting the authorities is… their reputation!!!

Problem #3 – No-one works: Tom; the lead dad, is a surgeon, but spends more time running around the estate and all the haunts he thinks his daughter may be. Pete; also a doctor (anaesthetist?) also doesn’t go to work much. Mr and Mrs Chahal seem to live a luxurious life with no mention of how a teacher (she) and her hubby; who never seems to go to work, can afford it. Helen Crowthorne lives in another large house; albeit extremely neglected, and she doesn’t even seem to have a job. At least the police are doing their jobs properly…or are they?!

Problem #4 – “I did it.” What, you hate your wife so much that you would implicate her as a paedophile?! Wow, this family needs some counselling.

Problem #5 – Same school: Most of the main characters/suspects seem to have attended the same school, then remained in the area; apparently able to afford to stay. And now the kids go to the same school. I don’t know about you, but I do not know a single person who’s children have attended the same school as their parents; especially when you live in a suburb or town where there are many to choose from.

Problem #5 – Archetypes? Check: Smacks of formulaic to me.

The Hero – that would be Tom, the dad.

The Mentor – most definitely Pete, he guides Tom through the lumps and bumps of how to behave; like he’s a grown man and still doesn’t know, in pubs, with neighbours etc. etc. And rolls his eyes at his friends impulsivity.

The Ally – well this can be Pete too, he’s the one who causes distractions to aid The Hero and accompanies him on his journey.

The Herald – Isn’t a character here – it’s an empty bed, time for a life-changing event Tom Delaney.

The Trickster – Jojo Marshall, provides a light break from the gloom of Tom’s storyline. Maybe this archetype fits him very loosely as he’s more of a fool.

The Shapeshifter – Detective Emma Castle. Why is she spying on one of the others. She’s a cop, so she’s a good guy isn’t she? Seems to hover on the borderline – until all is made clear of course.

The Guardian – ‘Bobby’, the owner of the Heaven Lounge. He tries to block Tom, practically telling him to go home and leave off his search. A big flag also waves over this character saying ‘this way lies danger’.

The Shadow – Also Bobby, as he creates a threat and further conflict for Tom.

Problem #6 – Teenage angst. Jenny Delaney can’t confront her father about a tracker he’s had installed on her phone. She has a secret from her mother – that she can’t share with her father. So, instead of having a hissy fit (like most teens), and going mardy in her bedroom because she can’t talk to dad – she ups and disappears!!!!

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Amy James-Kelly as Jenny Delaney

BUT, despite the spiralling lack of believability in this show, I watched it all. All the way through and, well, I kind of enjoyed it. How does that work?

I know many people have gone on about Michael C. Hall’s accent, but there isn’t anything wrong with it. Americans are notorious for getting British accents so very wrong, but if you aren’t London-centric, then it sounds okay to my Northerner ears.

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Marc Warren as Pete Mayfield

The acting is superb; especially, I have to say, Marc Warren( who for my money is not seen on TV or in films enough). People are entitled to their secrets,” he says, thus ensuring the viewer wonders, what kind of secret is Pete keeping? Hall is excellent in a constant state of high alert, panic and fear. Audrey Fleurot is also worth the money with her edgy, slightly neurotic, wide-eyed teacher accused of something teacher’s don’t ever want to be accused of.

The intro theme music is ‘Glitter and Gold’ by Barnes Courtney, love it. An English singer/songwriter, however, the song sounds American to me – imagine opening credits with some sweaty blokes harvesting in the ‘Deep South’, a lovely lass wiping the sweat from her brow as she peers; in her flimsy floral frock, yonder across the fields to a lone tree against a bleeding sunset. Well it’s not that. ‘Safe’, is all big houses, red brick, mock Tudor, green and ‘not so pleasant England’. So a little at odds with the theme.

It feels as though the producers were trying to appeal to as many cross-continent viewers as possible. The story moves at speed, but that’s because there are side stories, red herrings, so many individual secrets that it makes Pretty Little Liars look like a primary school squabble.

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Audrey Fleurot as Zoe Chahal

It was a great idea, and despite kind of enjoying it, I can’t help but feel that Mr. Coben should have edited his story before submitting it. It didn’t ring true. Hubby and I kept looking at each other and going, “What the…? Really? C’mon.”

I’m giving Safe 3 stars

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Book Review: Storm Front: The Dresden Files: Book One, by Jim Butcher

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                  Storm Front by Jim Butcher                             

Genre: Science Fiction. Fantasy. Supernatural.
Pub Date: 2005
Publisher: Orbit
Length: 322 pages
Paperback : Local Library (£6.99)

 

“My name is Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden. Conjure by it at your own risk. I’m a wizard. I work out of an office in midtown[sic] Chicago. As far as I know, I’m the only openly practicing[sic] professional wizard in the country. You can find me in the yellow pages, under “Wizards.” Believe it or not, I’m the only one there.” Harry Dresden:Storm Front. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Storm-Front-Dresden-Files-Book/dp/0356500276

Briefest Synopsis

Dresden is hired by a woman to find her husband, Victor. She tells Harry that Victor is an amateur magician who has been acting oddly; Harry suspects he is having an affair. The same day, Harry gets a call from Lieutenant Karrin Murphy, director of the Special Investigations (SI) Unit of the Chicago Police Department; Harry occasionally works for the police department on ‘unusual’ cases. He is shown the bodies of two people, who have died by having their hearts ripped out – apparently by magic. Dresden himself quickly becomes the chief suspect for these murders.

I’m one of those people who remembers all the films I have watched, well, pretty much all of them – 99%. I also remember the books I have read. So imagine my surprise when I took this title to the library counter and was informed I had already taken this title out some years earlier. I imagined I had borrowed it with a bundle of too many to read and re-borrowed – then when I began reading it, remembered I had started it and not liked it, so gave up on it.

I decided to read the whole thing to figure out what had curtailed my previous outing with Harry Dresden; after all, it apparently combines many things I am interested in; crime, Private Investigators, magic, humour. It was originally recommended by a friend in the Steampunk community, so I imagined it would have elements of this genre – it doesn’t.

Storm Front is, if you can imagine it, Philip Marlowe meets Merlin. A detective story with a large helping of magic; there are echoes of Raymond Chandler as Harry Dresden pisses associates off with his smart mouth in true ‘hard-boiled detective’ mode. Even when the Wizarding version of the police; the White Council, send a Warden, in the form of Morgan; with his huge muscular stature and mighty blade, Harry can’t resist deliberately annoying the guy.

As a wizard, Harry’s good – no, not good, the best – or at least that is what he tells us – and he is the only one in the phone book! The magic is actually well managed in this tale – Butcher gives explanations in some instances of how magic works, what faeries like to eat, and how wizards get assistance (a spirit in a skull in Harry’s case), there is psychological realism in the magic, which means it doesn’t go too far into the realms of ridiculous fantasy, the emphasis is on Harry’s interior character, his motives, and circumstances which create his external actions. Also, I like that Butcher has written a wizard into the modern world, usually wizards are to be found in high fantasy and wear robes, have beards and make grand gestures (don’t they?) – Harry’s a wizard for the modern age – though I have to say – I was never quite sure whether we were in Chicago of today, or the 1940’s.

I have heard that many readers do not progress beyond this book because of the portrayal of women; victims, seductresses – but it’s Harry’s POV – and he tells us he’s a chauvinist. I have no issue with that, besides Lieutenant Karrin Murphy and Susan Rodriguez are tough women; emotionally, physically, or both. And Harry doesn’t take himself too seriously; he doesn’t always have the upper hand – he has very human foibles.

I think what irked me initially, was my perceived theft of Philip Marlowe’s ‘voice’. Marlowe is one of my favourite literary characters and I could hear him in Harry Dresden – but to a lesser, feebler, weaker degree. But hey, don’t we all write under the influence of previous creators?! So I decided to forgive Jim Butcher and just get on with enjoying the book. And I did.

There are a number of layers to the story involving magic, gangsters, Harry’s history, supernatural elements, that are woven neatly together. You may guess early who did what to whom, but the journey there is pretty cool.

Butcher has an easy reading style to his writing, but is it enough to keep me in a long-term relationship with Harry? (17 books and counting!). I honestly do not know – I might skip a couple and see if Harry manages to grow up emotionally, get a new home (he lives in a basement flat), and get a wash! Often described as urban fantasy, Storm Front is set in the modern day so wandering around the city in a long leather duster strikes one as either immature (like a mardy teenager), or posy – plus, and I know this is not important(or is it?), he is portrayed on the covers as wearing a hat, a fedora to be exact – but he doesn’t actually wear one in the story! Go figure!

I am giving Storm Front: The Dresden Files

3 stars

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Review – The Good Place – What the fork?!

 

Currently – On Netflix (UK)

Starring – Ted Danson, Kristen Bell

GenreFantasy Comedy

WriterMichael Schur.

Premiered – September 19, 2016, on NBC

**Spoiler Alert**

(Today I can at least promise none of my usual bad language!)

I’m late to the party again – I know! To be honest, I had avoided watching this show on Netflix as the accompanying promotional image looked, well, like another one of those slightly ‘kooky’, American woman things. It didn’t pique my interest enough.

Then I watched the first season. Then I watched the first season again with hubby in tow, and we completed the two seasons – watching two or three an evening.

A quick synopsis –

A young woman, Eleanor Shellstrop wakes up in the afterlife. She is informed by Michael, that this is The Good Place. It is a Heaven-like utopia, that he designed, in reward for her having lived a good life. Everyone here as done something amazing when they were alive. However, Eleanor realises that she was sent there by mistake and must find a way to keep her true, morally reprehensible past a secret. Enter Chidi – her carefully selected after-life soul mate, who was a moral philosophy professor when alive. Can Chidi help to improve Eleanor?

The Good Place is well-written entertainment, as well as being quite thought provoking – what better way to get people to consider the ethical and /or moral considerations of our actions, than through the use of humour?

The use of names is interesting –

Michael – means ‘who is God?’. Was also an archangel.

Chidi – means “God exists” in Igbo (West African)

Eleanor – meaning ‘light’, or ‘bright shining one’. (Latin)

Tahani – ‘congratulations’ or ‘best wishes’ in Arabic.

Jason – comes from the Greek for ‘healer’.

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“I came up with hundreds of plans in my life, and only one of them got me killed.” 

And although it is not necessary; I personally find the origins of names interesting, the selection of these names does add to the overall ‘plan’ of the writer and the show.

The humour arises from a number of contrivances:

Firstly, no-one can swear in The Good Place, so Eleanor’s profanities end up as, fork, shirt, dink, ash hole and motherforker.

Chidi is morally bound (by his own morals!) to assist Eleanor – regardless of how much she tries to take the easy route, and this causes him pain, “I’m getting a stomach ache. I’m in a perfect utopia, and I’m… I have a stomach ache. This is awful.

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“I don’t know what to do here. This is a mess, morally speaking. This is a putrid, disgusting bowl of ethical soup.”

Eleanor’s neighbour is a once wealthy, British socialite, who seems to be the only person with a dissimilar accent, “I also dabbled in some other professions. I was a model, a museum curator, an “It Girl,” and… oh, I was Baz Luhrmann’s muse for a while. That was quite fun.

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So “Tahani” means “congratulations” in Arabic…

And then there is Janet. I have to say, Janet is my favourite character – she is a human shaped data base, “Not a girl.”. She works with Michael; the Architect, and is all-knowing, “Fun Fact: Columbus is in The Bad Place because of all the raping, slave-trade and genocide.

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“Hi there!”

But the real humour comes from the moral and ethical arguments put forward by the various characters and situations. We’re all pretty familiar with the ‘trolley/train problem‘, well imagine doing it for real! Who really does belong in ‘the good place’? Are our deeds counted and assessed by an all-knowing being? If you choose to ignore the ‘small voice’ (your conscience), are you going to the bad place? (Motherforker! That’s me done for!)

And then there’s Michael, he’s …

Nah, I’m going to let you watch it and decide for yourself whether you think The Good Place is good, or not?!

I’m giving The Good Place 4 stars

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Book Review: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Genre: Fiction, Humour
Pub Date: 2017
Publisher: HarperCollins
Length: 400 pages (PB)
Paperback: £8.99

Synopsis

Eleanor Oliphant has worked in the same office for nine years. Believing she has ‘met’ the love of her life; musician Johnnie Lomond, she resolves to make a project out of winning him over, before ever meeting him.

Eleanor forms a kind of friendship with the office’s IT guy; Raymond via an accident they both observe. Eleanor reveals a little about her past relationships, boyfriend and mother, during their now regular lunchtime meetings.

After a potentially disastrous event, Raymond ends up taking care of Eleanor, thus setting her on the road to recovery.

Eleanor Oliphant struggles with social skills and appropriate responses to pretty much everything and everyone she encounters. She has never, for example, bought a women’s magazine before, but, “I’d worked out that they were the most reliable and accessible source of the information that I needed.” Her life is carefully timetabled, from the Wednesday phone calls from Mummy, to the food she eats for her evening meal. She drinks a large amount of vodka at weekends and has visits from a Social Worker.


I found myself right from the outset, trying to work out if Eleanor had suffered from a past trauma, or if she was a high functioning Autistic. Her attitude to colleagues and people in general is akin to how some people with Autism maintain a distance from others; reluctance to engage in office banter, avoidance of touching other people and such-like. She always has her shopper with her and wears the same clothes to work daily, she even has just two pairs of shoes; practical, comfortable; Velcroed.

Writers, when starting out in the craft, are often advised to open the first chapter with a bang, to create a hook for the reader, grab the publishers interest – but – I didn’t feel any of this when I read the introductory paragraphs. Even the fact that she had her interview with a black eye did not intrigue me. Only after pages 4 to 6, when Eleanor explains her weekly routine; “I usually have pasta with pesto and salad – one pan and one plate.” and a tiny glimpse into her childhood, did I think that there was something more to this than meets the eye.

I’m glad I stuck with it. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine gives the reader an outsiders view of the world – haven’t we all felt a little like ignoring those around us? It is both funny and touching. The reason and mystery Eleanor is alone is made clear very gradually, drop by drop, and poses the question, how vital is human interaction? When she thanks the hairdresser for making her ‘shiny’, I had a lump in my throat. 

Is Eleanor Oliphant Completely Fine? Do read it and decide for yourself!

This is Gail Honeyman’s début novel, for which she won the Costa First Novel Award 2017, it feels like the work of a more experienced writer.

I’m giving Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine 4 stars

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Book Review: The Improbable Wonders Of Moojie Littleman by Robin Gregory

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The Improbable Wonders of Moojie Littleman. Robin Gregory

Genre: Fiction. YA. Historical.
Pub Date: 1 November 2015
Publisher: Price World Publishing
Length: 294 pages
Paperback : £11.00

Synopsis

Early 1900s, Western America. A lonely, disabled boy with a nasty temper and uncontrolled mystical powers, Moojie is taken by his father to his grandfather’s wilderness farm. There, Moojie meets an otherworldly clan of outcasts that he wants to join. Following a series of misadventures–magical and mystical–he is summoned by the call to a great destiny … if only he can survive one last terrifying trial.

https://www.amazon.com/Improbable-Wonders-Moojie-Littleman/dp/1942545002

 

I was surprised to learn that this book was published over 2 years ago; it seems to be suddenly everywhere I look online.

Although touted as Y.A, I found it to be an engaging and beautiful story – Set in late 19th early 20th century. Moojie Littleman is a foundling who is adopted by childless couple; Henry and Kate Littleman. Moojie is written across the babes forehead, and so the name sticks.

The name is an interesting choice, it is no accident that the name Moojie (and its variant spellings) can mean – an ethnic slur in India, particularly about a Muslim. For Kabbalists it is about optimism, being friendly and likeable, other sources say it means ‘gift from God’. Knowing just this gives a foothold into this world created by Robin Gregory. A world of hard men; of Scottish, Irish and European origins, who live hard lives in the dust-blown, western edge of the earthquake riddled coastal town of San Miguel de las Gaviotas.

As Moojie grows to an age when certain stages in development should be met, it becomes clear that he is not like other children. For starters he is disabled. This physical disability is not named, but reads like cerebral palsy. Moojie does not, or cannot, speak; until much later. He has tantrums that create havoc and can be said to be spoilt by his doting mother; Kate. An interesting character herself, his mother introduces Moojie to the magical world of books – science, history, Odysseus. She sees in Moojie something no-one else can, a special quality that she attempts to nurture.

Then tragedy strikes. Moojie’s world falls apart after his beloved mother’s death and he is packed off to live with a cranky grandfather. He has to toughen up, the threat of being sent away to a boys home hangs over him for years. He is alone, feels unloved and without a sense of belonging.

Enter the Light-Eaters. A strange ‘tribe’ or ‘clan’ of people who live in the hills beyond grandfather’s goat farm. They are not like the locals, they are dark-skinned, dark-haired and viewed with suspicion by the townsfolk, who call them ‘Hostiles’. We are not told if they are Native American, they can speak any language they want, and there is a heavy emphasis on Eastern philosophy and spirituality. A curious group who each have lessons for Moojie; even painful ones, who reveal a little about themselves drop by drop; where are they from exactly? How old, actually, is Babylonia, the ‘girl’ whom Moojie falls for?

Moojie’s desperate desire to belong; to find a family, leads him on a journey of self-development. It is, in essence, a story of self-discovery and spirituality. Moojie’s disability is no excuse or reason for self-limitation, Moojie must learn how to give, how to forgive and how to accept.

This is a curious story, I was quite entranced from the start with the magical elements entwined in amongst the mundane – and isn’t that the point? Gregory has a light touch, poetic adjectives fill the spaces between the daily activities, is an easy read and has a positive message without being cloying. It can be read by the young as a tale of wonder and magic, and by adults as a tale of the human condition, for after all, aren’t we all Moojie Littleman?

 

I am giving The Improbable Wonders Of Moojie Littleman

5 Stars

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Film Review: The Foreigner

The Foreigner coverGenre: Action Thriller 

Starring: Jackie Chan, Pierce Brosnan

Based on: The Chinaman, 1992 novel by Stephen Leather 

Release Date: 30 Sept. 2017

Director: Martin CampbellProduction Company: Huayi Brothers

Synopsis

A humble businessman with a buried past seeks justice when his daughter is killed in an act of terrorism. A cat-and-mouse conflict ensues with a government official, whose past may hold clues to the killers’ identities.”

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1615160/

I watched this on Netflix UK.

Jackie Chan, star of Martial Arts movies such as Project A (1983), Police Story (1985) and Armour of God I and II, stars as Quan Ngoc Minh; a Chinese single parent, living in England with his only daughter.  Pierce Brosnan, former James Bond, is Northern Ireland deputy First Minister, Liam Hennessy, a former IRA member who is publicly open about his past but now in his later years, is keen to keep the peace accord in place. In the opening, Quan’s young teenage daughter is killed in a terrorist bomb attack – the quiet man sets out on a vendetta to find his daughter’s killers.


I have been watching Jackie Chan movies since the early 80s, and am very familiar with his fast-paced action style, his well-publicised injuries during filming, his comedic roles and Buster Keatonesque scenarios. So this was a bit of a mental adjustment. Chan is now 63 years old and although he cannot do the ridiculous acrobatics he performed in his earlier films, he can still move with astonishing speed – when he needs to. I was totally impressed with his physical stamina; and this film does have some pretty harsh fight scenes. He is mostly pitted against men who are twenty to thirty years his junior and is tripped, thrown and felled to a degree you wonder how his ageing body can take it.

However, what affected me most was his very moving performance as a deeply distraught father who simply wants the names of his child’s murderers. He drifts like a ghost, stands in his daughters bedroom and stares, he shuffles like an old man. When his offer to pay the police for the names of the bombers is refused, he decides to take matters into his own hands. And here; along with the First Minister, we discover Quan’s history. It is both tragic and fearsome – the Minister and his men are tested repeatedly by this quiet foreigner who wants, not only justice, but revenge.

The film is interesting for its pitting two older men against one another; neither are completely innocent; both have violent pasts. There is a resilience one could call stubbornness in both men. Both have their own moral codes that one could say have become rigid. There are thrilling fight scenes, but not so many – this is mature martial arts – when Chan is knocked flat on his back on a rooftop my ageing bones empathised. This is also the first time I have ever seen Chan cry.

It’s an oddity too. The bad guys are Irish, or more precisely, the IRA. The IRA ceasefire was called about 20 years ago, so to someone who grew up in England during The Troubles, with Irish parents, it seems dated. Plus, there are moments in the film in which some characters refer to Chan’s character as ‘the Chinaman’ – I couldn’t decide if it was racist, a hint that Brits and Irish are racist, a nod to the original novel title, or lazy updating of terms. Some of Hennessy’s henchmen can come across as a little too predictable, too generic and the theme could said to be dated – but – I did enjoy it; if enjoy is the right word to use for such a dark, troubled and sad film.

I give The Foreigner – 

4 stars

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