Snake Eyes came out a couple weeks back and in the middle of a vacation I hadn’t had a chance to catch it just yet. Finally getting back, I got to see the new GI Joe flick and I have a new movie review to dive in on. How did Snake Eyes stack up against our other recent reviews like Mortal Kombat and Jiu Jitsu? Let’s take a look!
Snake Eyes: Ninja Fans Rejoice
I’ll admit, I was not a big GI Joe fan growing up. It was cool but I was more into the Ninja Turtles and Batman. But, having seen the movies from the past few years, I was relatively excited to see Snake Eyes when it came to theaters. The movie explores the background of the titular character, Snake Eyes himself. I’ve seen reviews saying Japan is a place dying franchises go to breathe new life into a series. I feel that is an unfair assessment to a Snake Eyes movie given his real origins.
The movie stars Henry Golding who was in The Gentlemen, and Warrior’s Andrew Koji. I was particularly excited about Koji in a movie taking place in Japan with martial arts at it’s core. His work in Warrior on now HBO was phenomenal and season three is on the way. The choreography was fantastic in the series and I couldn’t wait for more of Koji.
Koji was actually never that interested in a GI Joe movie but with his first big opportunity being in a feature film, he couldn’t turn it down.
I thought about playing that character because I didn’t like the first two films. I can say that. I’m allowed to not like a film. So, I was hesitant, at first, to even accept that. That’s a big studio film and my first role in a big studio film, so I was very hesitant because I didn’t have that trust in Hollywood to do that. What Warrior taught me and the voice that it gave me helped my work on Storm Shadow. I don’t wanna play a character with a six-pack. I wanted him to be human and flawed. He’s going through stuff. For me, when I saw the first GI Joe films, I was like, ‘I don’t wanna do that. That’s not the kind of thing I wanna do.’Andrew Koji on Snake Eyes
Koji shined quite well in the movie. While it had it’s flaws and failed to deliver on what is perhaps Koji and Golding’s best qualities, it did a good job of giving him something new to play that he was interested in.
Of course, Ray Park was originally Snake Eyes in the GI Joe films. When Golding was to replace him, it was after Koji was signed. Writer Larry Hama said that casting Golding was in retaliation to casting the only Asian character as a bad guy. “Some people are saying that casting Golding ‘fixes’ the character of Snake-Eyes, but I disagree. I had wanted to keep him ambiguous until HASBRO introduced Storm Shadow as the only Asian character and made him a bad guy. I decided to ‘fix’ that by delving into his background and gradually turning him into a good guy. This is why Snake-Eyes is a white guy.”
Snake Eyes: The Good
Snake Eyes was a fun move to say the least, despite what the critics say. It has some flaws that we will discuss later on. But the movie is packed full of action. If you’re a fan of ninjas, sword fights in particular, this movie will entertain. With me watching was my 9 year-old son and he told me a couple times how much he was enjoying the movie.
In the initial fight scene, it seemed to be a to the death bout with hammers and chains being thrown around. We even got to see a flying knee. Sometimes, the fights were weird. But overall, the action was a 2 against 1 dynamic showing off our hero’s skills.
Snake Eyes had some challenges to go through and the first was the most interesting. He had to take a bowl of water from the teacher, the Hard Master, without spilling the bowl. It served as an interesting dynamic of a right of passage step for Snake Eyes.
In the end, we finally get to see the legacy outfit in a cool motorcycle scene. Speaking of the motorcycles, they were all electric and not loud. But the whining made them just as cool.
The acrobatics of Snake Eyes was great as well. Tons of different stuff, like wall walking between two trucks moving, and sword action. It was a very short time between each fight and kept you entertained.
Snake Eyes: The Bad
There were some knocks on Snake Eyes. The movie was far from perfect. While I don’t dock for Snake Eyes, a traditionally silent character (this is a prequel after all), talking, I have to knock for other things. The fight scenes, especially early on, are something that drove me nuts. Golding and Koji are choreographers in their own right. Every time the movie would have them in a fight scene, the camera would shake and you couldn’t see anything they were really doing. While it did give a chaotic feeling to the scene, it really took away from Koji and Golding’s real talents.
Some of the decisions in the writing room were heavy handed as well. Of course the bad guys start out in a dock and are members of the Yakuza. It’s not really creative and most bad guys in movies operate at “the docks.”
The second and third challenges weren’t near as cool as the first either. But they both served a purpose in the movie to advance the character growth and payoff at the end.
The dialogue was unimaginative at times as well. “You should have killed me when you had the chance,” and “Just stay down,” were both uttered in this movie in addition to the thousand other movies they’ve been a part of. Despite the eye rolling times they were used, the dialogue wasn’t too often and didn’t take you out too much.
Snake Eyes rating: 6/10
Snake Eyes gets a 6/10 from me. Keep in mind, 6 is average in our scale. Snake Eyes shined in many areas but had some things that held it back. The story was basic but executed decently. When I go into a martial arts based movie, I’m not really expecting that story though. Don’t expect that to come from Snake Eyes.
The lack of crisp choreography with the fight scenes are the big dock from my point of view. The amount of talent behind the movie was incredibly underutilized. Seeing them in action really could have been what really put Snake Eyes over the top.
The movie is bombing at the box office, unfortunately, and it’s trying to set up a sequel. On the upside of that, despite it’s bombing, there are some reasons you could chalk that up to. The COVID-19 pandemic is in the middle of an up tick. It’s going to be hard to have great numbers when people are going back into hiding. The other thing is a GI Joe film is not going to draw fans back to the theaters. Hell, Black Widow, a Marvel movie, is suffering a big drop in the box office and it’s the return of the MCU to the big screen.
Should you watch this with your kid, however? It’s fun to watch but there is an F-bomb in there, so sensitive ears beware. But the gore wasn’t over the top and almost non-existant. There are swords, car chases, and mystical elements. It’s a great movie to tune in, tune out, and enjoy a good action flick.