The Matrix
(By Gerry Wang)

(Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fisburne; directed by the Wachowski Brothers)
Gerry Wang

"F- me in the *bleep*, THE MATRIX was an awesome movie!"
___________________________________-- Gerry Wang

_____There, that's the quote I want the LA Times to put on the THE MATRIX advertisement. It was so good that I am willing to incur Rice's wrath to express how much I liked it. And I bet if you go watch it, you'll be going "*bleep* me!" in awe and wonderment. Before the censorship gods blast lightning down on my stupid ass, let me tell you why I felt THE MATRIX was so good that only my foul mouth can put into words how cool it was.

_____Actually, I think Harry Knowles of Ain't-It-Cool-News said it best: "I wanted some time before I wrote my review [of THE MATRIX] to digest it, because when I came out of the theater I was a blithering idiot frothing at the mouth striving for the orgasmic language with which to describe the movie." Classic Harry, whom you can check out at http://www.aint-it-cool-news.com

_____Don't get me wrong, I'm usually not a fan of sci-fi movies unless there is the word "Star" in the title, and either the name "Lucas" or "Roddenberry" is attached. Remember all those horrific cyber/sci-fi movies that came out recently? JOHNNY MNEMONIC (starring Keanu Reeves, btw), HACKERS, EVENT HORIZON (starring Laurence Fisburne, btw), SPHERE, SOLDIER..... all those movies sucked ass. And although I'm a geek-dweeb, I'm just not inclined to spend money watching a sci-fi flick just to see f/x. I still need a good story and some good acting and especially a good script. Fortunately, THE MATRIX had all these qualities, and I believe this movie single-handedly revived the cyber/sci-fi genre.

_____I was skeptical of watching THE MATRIX at first. The trailer was very ambiguous, and I never really dug anything Keanu did since SPEED. But positive reviews and good word-of-mouth finally convinced me to give it a try. As of now, 04/05/99, THE MATRIX was the number one box office draw. It seems a lot of people are like me. They went to watch it because of all the buzz surrounding it. But hot-damn it was sure worth my 5 bucks.

_____THE MATRIX was written and directed by the Wachowski Brothers, who also made the lesbo-heist movie BOUND, which I enjoyed. The Wachowskis have a real flair w/ the camera. And w/ THE MATRIX, it came out in full force. THE MATRIX was deliriously frenetic in its pacing, dynamically visual in its special effects, and dizzyingly spectacular in its scope. You can't ask for anything more in a movie.

_____It combines all the aspects of an epic: mythology, hero's quest, fulfillment of prophecy, final battle between good and evil, omnipotent villain.... It also has a delicious blend of martial arts mixed w/ gun-fighting, reminiscent of John Woo and other Hong Kong movies. THE MATRIX is like a tribute to the Asian kung fu action flicks. There's lots of flying-through-the-air Street Fighter kicks, gravity-defying climbing on the walls, super-high jumps, ultra-quick punching and kicking and dodging.... in fact, if I didn't know otherwise, I would've thought THE MATRIX was an Asian movie.

_____THE MATRIX takes place in what we think is 1999, but is really 2199. By the 23nd Century, the human race will have lost a war with the AI (Artificial Intelligence) machines they created. As a measure to cut off the energy supply the human Resistance has blocked out the sun. The AI machines decide harvest humans as a source of energy instead, and to keep them unconscious, all the humans are hooked up to a vast virtual reality system called the Matrix. There, they live ordinary lives like you and me. All the while the AI machines rule the Earth in the 22nd Century, which looks like a barren wasteland with only remnants of cities remaining. The last of the human Resistance has retreated underground to the last remaning haven, called Zion. Imagine that, what we think is our real lives in fact is all fake and made up. And this could actually be happening to us. How would we know? We could be living in a virtual dimension, oblivious to reality. History as we know it could could in fact all be fabricated. Pretty scary, huh?

_____This realization falls upon Neo (Keanu Reeves), a hacker within the virtual universe. Neo leads a regular life working for a software company, but one day he is contacted by an enigma named Morpheus (Laurence Fisburne). All of a sudden, Neo's world as he knows it comes crashing down, as Morpheus reveals the truth to him. Morpheus tells Neo that he is the "Chosen One."

_____Neo is the Savior of a Prophecy that foretells the end of the AI dominion. Back in the real world, that is, the world where the humans are kept in capsules that harvest generated energy in endless fields mined by spider-like AI monsters, Morpheus is an outlaw being hunted down by the AI Matrix. Morpheus is basically the leader of the Rebellion, and a very important figure. He heads a team of crusaders and captains a ship, the Nebuchadnezzar, where they live since the sun's been blocked and the surface is too cold. Oh man, those jelly-fish Sentinel machines assigned to hunt down the Nebuchadnezzar are freakin' menacing as hell. They have all these tentacles and many glowing red eyes. Terrifying. I was gonna sh-t my pants.

_____In the virtual world, the Matrix has these super-human agents that are meant to squash any potential candidates of the Chosen One position. These agents are the villains, these virtual-reality "Men in Black" that just drip with venom. There is a main villain/agent named Agent Smith that looks like Scott Brosius. All of the agents are awesome at hand to hand combat, and cannot be killed my regular humans. No one can match their speed and strength, not even Morpheus. The only one who can face these agents is the Chosen One.

_____But Neo isn't ready yet. He is still skeptical of his role, but proceeds to train for confrontation with the enemy. The training sequences are really cool. All training is conducted through virtual reality and computer programs. This part is so dope. To learn kung fu like Tae Bo, Tae Kwon Do, and Drunken Boxing, all they have to do is pop in a disk that loads directly to the brain. Sweet huh?

_____But even though you have the ability and knowledge, you must still know how to harness this power and use it correctly. You still have to believe in yourself. This is what Neo gradually learns throughout the movie. In the end he KNOWS he is the Chosen One, and can kick any agent's ass. Neo is the Savior who will save humankind. He can see through the Matrix's code. You can actually sense the fear of the AIs as Keanu deftly dodges bullets and bicycle-kicks the agents' asses. Once again, I must applaud the use of kung fu in a sci-fi movie. It totally rocks. THE MATRIX is the best sci-fi/martial arts movie since BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA.

_____One aspect of THE MATRIX I really liked was its characters. The character of Neo, the hero, undergoes a huge life-changing transition, and learns that he has the daunting role of being the Chosen One. We see him fail at first. He can't leap buildings in a single bound. He can't whup Morpheus' ass at kung fu. He gets manhandled by the agents, shot by bullets too.

_____The character of Morpheus just oozes cool. He has sunglasses that stay on with just the lenses. In fact, everyone has sunglasses. I guess in the future everyone wants to look hard. Everyone also has nice leather suits. Morpheus' leather trench coat looked very GQ. Anyways, there's this mystery surrounding Morpheus, but as we get to know him, we see that he is one tough leader of the humans. It's his faith in Neo that saves the world.

_____The obligatory romantic interest of Neo is a woman named Trinity, who was also recruited by Morpheus. She falls in love w/ Neo, and also saves his butt a couple times. She kicks ass too. Like Jade in Mortal Kombat. But the actress portraying Trinity does a good job at showing the restrained anguish of the character who is torn between the Prophecy and her love. She wasn't that good looking though. Shoulda had Kelly Hu or Catherine Zeta-Jones, or any high-kicking bombshell. If you don't know who Kelly Hu is, she's from MARTIAL LAW and NASH BRIDGES. Check her out. She's a headbuster.

_____But one of the most intruiging characters is the Oracle, part of the mythological aspects of THE MATRIX. I'm expecting some hologram and monotone voice, but it ends up being a black lady in ghetto. How original is that? That's one thing I loved about THE MATRIX. It didn't hesitate to do something outrageous and daring, yet completely original. Who woulda thought the mystical Oracle, whom everyone regards w/ reverence and awe is Aunt Jimima? The Wachowski Brothers have a nose for cool.

_____I also loved the over-the-top acting. The actors made you truly believe that we're in a virtual world. The way Agent Smith hissed every word like a snake made him sound so vile, so loathsome. That was a great character. All of the characters were great. They were all chic, kinda like how the MOD SQUAD wished they're characters were like. Ubersuave.

_____However, THE MATRIX is not w/o its weaknesses. They coulda used someone besides Keanu Reeves as Neo. When Keanu was doing his kung fu, he just wasn't that convincing. He had a "What the hell am I doing" look on his face the whole time. Plus he looked a little too slight of build. He needed to beef up those arms. THE MATRIX could've used an Asian actor, but he woulda messed up the English, which would totally kill the movie. But imagine seeing Jet Li doing the ass-kicking. Would be so sweet! Even Wesley Snipes woulda done a better job, except he's black, and THE MATRIX already exhausted its black quota w/ Laurence Fisburne. Brandon Lee would've been absolutely perfect. Too bad he's deceased; God rest his soul.

_____Another weakness I saw was the lack of a famous actor as a head badass agent. We could used someone we'd identify with as a villain. This would make Neo's triumph more fulfilling. Instead of Scott Brosius, wouldn't the guy from T2 have been better? We already view him as a cyberkiller. Oh well, I'm nitpicking, because the actor being Agent Smith was pretty good.

_____Overall, I found THE MATRIX to be one of the best movies of the year. Not because I'm a guy and I enjoy action films, but THE MATRIX had the complete package as a movie. The plot was smart, the acting was good, and the f/x were top notch. I guarantee THE MATRIX will become a cult-classic on the level of BLADE RUNNER. I can't wait till the video game comes out. Imagine that. A Mission Impossible cross-bred with Street Fighter, Rainbow Six, and X-Com. I believe I'm also "frothing at the mouth."

***1/2 of out 4
Babe-o-meter: 1- I am limp. (Either I'm impotent, or I haven't seen any good babe movies in a while. Haven't seen CRUEL INTENTIONS yet though. Cinematic Viagra, baby....)

The scale is as follows:

* 4-- Greek Goddesses (Highest)- Some nice, delicious honeys; i.e. Jenny McCarthy
* 3-- Lovely- Pretty girls, but not knockouts; i.e. Jennifer Lopez
* 2-- Semi Do-able- Middle of the road type of girls; i.e. Jennie Garth
* 1-- I am limp (Lowest)- Butt ugly banshees; i.e. my sis Jennifer Wang =)