The film centers on a police detective investigating a series of gruesome murderers. As the case pulls him deeper, he soon realizes that he may be a prime suspect. MURDERER is an example of a film that tries too hard to be unique and different from every other film with a similar plot. In fact, it tries too hard that the film falls apart. Let’s start with the good: The first half of the film is interesting and captivating. The film lays out the puzzle pieces while our protagonist tries to put them together.
Aaron Kwok plays a police detective in charge of an investigation into a string of serial murders, who suffers amnesia apparently as a result of an incident shown in the opening sequence of the film (and in which another police detective was seriously injured). The first half of the film shows his state of mental decline as he gradually succumbs to paranoia when he (re)discovers clues and evidence that seems to finger him as the murderer. This part of the film is very well done, minus the grizzly murder scenes and the opening sequence, which are clearly gratuitous. Kwok makes a convincing performance as a detective who is simultaneously convinced that he is being framed but unable to deny the trail of evidence that confronts him. The uncertainty over his role in the murders is compounded by his amnesia and his personal conviction regarding his innocence, which compels him to conceal damning evidence from his colleagues while trying desperately to hunt down a killer that he believe is still “out there.” “Western” audiences are most likely to compare this segment of the film to Memento given the amnesia component and the gradually unfolding clues that lead the main character to question his starting assumptions.
Then comes in the dreaded second half. Whatever good was built up in the first half is now broken down, stomped upon, and lit on fire. Stupid and unbelievable things happen here. For example, our protagonist seems to be framed for some murders. Well, the easiest way to find out is some DNA testing, right? Nope. Somehow, nobody in this film ever thought of that. It’s as if the film took place 50 years ago when there was no technology or DNA testing. The lame script aside, we have to admit that the build-up is rather tensed and suspenseful – thanks to Kwok and co-star Cheung Sui-Fai who plays his cop buddy ‘Ghost’. Kwok gives his Detective Ling the requisite touch of outrage and paranoia that help to sustain our curiosity. Cheung, on the other hand, plays a man of reason and logic – until he is overwhelmed by them. Ning Chang is solid as the long-suffering wife but it is Josie Ho who livens things up as Minnie, Ling’s younger sister who arrives from the States. The movie collapses when the ‘truth’ is revealed. Director Roy Chow (who also wrote the screenplay with To Chi-Long) seems to have spent so much time on the build-up that he has to rush through the ending. Instead of explaining the plot (or mystery), he makes the ending more ridiculous, opening up lots of questions on the minds of viewers. A very unfortunate debut for director Chow
Dae-Ho is an unproductive bank clerk who is late to work every morning and the object of his manager’s frustrations. He was a fan of TV wrestling as a child, but can’t get out of a headlock. He finds a local wrestling trainer and through a series of events eventually starts to train. He is slowly transformed as he begins his second job as the cheating villain wrestler known as the Foul King. He starts to stand up for himself in odd ways that are not really in his own best interest. Events get out of hand as conflicting influences come together. For a film about a masked wrestler, there is surprisingly little cheesiness to this film. We follow a downtrodden banker as he invests his self esteem in the sport, and first see it treated in a very realistic, everyday way, without dramatic music or camera angles and are allowed to see the inherent ridiculousness of it. As the film builds up, and becomes more stylized, it hasn’t made a grand statement about wrestling, but allows it to be seen as reality. With this, the fight sequences become one aspect, while the real heart of the movie are the Mr. Bean like physical comedy bits where the main character tries to get respect in his everyday life. While a few key scenes take place in the ring, the best bits are in the office, on the street or in the park.
I don’t disagree that when the comedic elements are present – they work well. However, and this is a big however, they are few and far between. The movie fails for me because of its pacing. There is nothing really fantastic going on between the comedic moments. It’s just filler material that tries to tell a story about the blandness of a man’s life, and his interactions with his environment. It succeeds in showing why he would go into wrestling, but also succeeds in putting the viewer to sleep. I watched it once myself, and watched it again with friends. During the second viewing I had multiple requests to fast forward through dull, drawn-out scenes. It was funny at the same time. Unfortunately, it is not the humor that I especially enjoy. If there was an American remake, it would easily feature Adam Sandler – not a great recommendation.
But though the film does everything right, from an explosive finale to great comedy and a cute romance, there’s always the lingering sense that it is not quite enough. It’s definitely a testament to Kim Ji-woon’s success that we are left wanting more of what he presents, but it still leave may leave viewers unsatisfied. I wanted more from the teasing bit of romance between Dae-ho and his coach’s daughter. I wanted more of those moments where wrestling helped in his real life. I wanted more humor from his dead-end job. They were minor focuses of the film, but even in a film full of gorgeously stylish slow-motion wrestling moves, these were still the moments that really mattered.
Everyone knows the love story plot. Boy meets girl. Something bad happens and boy looses girl. Yet, they get back together. But then something very bad happens and boy really seems to lose girl. It follows the story of two lonely teachers, a male and a female. They were assigned at the same rural school but a year apart. The girl being assigned first, attempted to write her thoughts on a diary, being stuck out in boonies. One day she has to be transferred to another school and left the diary. The male teacher came by as a substitute and saw the diary, thus, falling in love with the unacquainted writer. He also wrote his thoughts on it. The guy also left and the lady returned and saw that there are added articles on the diary. She also fell in love with him but now having a hard time looking for the boy.
As with many romance comedies, the film won’t work without its charming and likable leads. Of the two teachers, Ann, the female lead, is the better one – smarter, braver, skilled among the two, capable of adapting her life at the houseboat school with the kids. On the other hand, Song, the male lead, breaks his arm as soon as he reaches the school and struggling to teach the kids algebra maths (because he sucks at maths). Although they are different, they share the same ideals towards teaching the young. It’s their passion and dedication towards teaching that brings them together as one. Their relationship troubles due to the nature of their jobs were well presented. All the kids are lively and likable as well.
Song’s infatuation and admiration for Ann was sincere and it doesn’t feel creepy at all. We can see that Song was genuinely fascinated by Ann’s dedication towards teaching, through her personal thoughts and frustrations while teaching at the school. After Song leaves and Ann resumes her teaching at the school, she was touched that her dedication inspires others and starts to admire Song after hearing things about him from the kids and his writings in her diary. The film never overdoes the melodrama and making it overly sentimental.
All in, this magical little movie gives us the complete smile in our lips and soul after watching this movie. The film is filled with a handful of jokes that provides a few laughters here and there. The editing was done well such that the alternating scenes of Ann and Song are presented coherently in the film. It was evenly paced and the story flows nicely as well. Not to mention, the widescreen cinematography of the lake location is simply stunning. Simply put, one of the best romantic drama comedies I’ve seen this year.
A Japanese zombie Pink Horror film from 2012 from the co-director of ‘Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl‘, now before I say anything else I should explain what a pink film is. A pink film is term used to categorize a wide variety of Japanese films with adult content. This encompasses everything from dramas to action thrillers and exploitation and horror films, as well as soft-core porn. and this movie is ‘Rape Zombie: Lust of the Dead’.
Rape Zombie: Lust of the Dead is more or less a Japanese remake of the Troma film ‘The Taint’ but with more rape and guns and Japanese girls. Also The only way to kill the zombies is by removing or destroying their penis. I think it is needless to say but this film is not for everyone its an erotic exploitation horror film about rapist zombies full of sexual violence and nudity, only for those who can handle seeing a lot of messed up stuff. The girls in this film are very attractive sadly the only time you see them nude is when they are being raped which isn’t the best way to see them. The acting is decent along with the writing and effects some of the effects are pretty good then at other times there is super fake CGI blood and visual effects. The effects are still pretty good its kinda like the effects in ‘Ichi the Killer’ good and bad but still cool. The camera-work and lighting are kinda OK you know shaky cam at times and a bit of lens flair here and there. The film has a very Vampire girl vs Frankenstein girl look and vibe to it, violence, gore, nudity, sex, schoolgirls.
That was basically it, the entire movie wrapped up in a short summary. The storyline is entertaining enough in its oddity and absurdity. But it can only carry the movie so far, because there is little else to keep the movie afloat. That is, unless you are into soft core Japanese pornography and really awful zombie make-up. The acting in the movie was as you’d expect from a movie with the title “Rape Zombie: Lust of the Dead”. So don’t get your hopes up here. Personally I think that director Naoyuki Tomomatsu was spending a little too much time filming staged rape scenes with poor-looking zombies, instead of focusing on establishing a proper movie. There are two sequels to “Rape Zombie: Lust of the Dead” that I am familiar with, as I found them on Amazon. But at the outrageous price they are set and after having seen the train wreck that is “Rape Zombie: Lust of the Dead”, then I will call it quits here and not invest in further installments to this low budget sleaze-fest.
In the hills outside Lashio, an unnamed young vegetable farmer (Wang Shin-hong) and his unnamed father (Zhou Cai Chang) are facing grim economic realities. Featuring a cast of relative unknowns, this socially conscious drama maintains a remarkable feeling of authenticity from start to finish. At the heart of the story is a pair of individuals trying to make ends meet in the tough environs of rural Burma, with the dangerous (but enticing) city looming in the distance. The film begins on a farm, with a farmer and his son harvesting their latest crop. After this latest haul, they discuss the challenges associated with their profession, which is no longer as profitable as it once was. They decide to explore other options and upon conversations with other farmers in the village, they decide that the son must start a scooter taxi service. This city-bound service promises greater income but it also comes at a price. As the elder villagers are fully aware, the city is filled with vice (particularly drugs like crystal meth) that often end up attracting the youth. As such, the son is warned to stay away from these distractions. Unfortunately, he’s eventually lured into the drug trade (and consumption) after his taxi service proves unsuccessful.
From the onset, it’s clear that the director is going for a docudrama feel with this film. The first act involves many lengthy conversations between the villagers, delivered in a relaxed everyday tone. There’s no actorly expressiveness or showmanship, far removed from the usual expectations of “performance”. Likewise, the direction and cinematography is purposefully drab, conveying the routine banality of the setting. As a result, these traits manage to simultaneously work to the film’s benefit and detriment.
Working in the film’s favor for example, is the fascinating plot that follows the son’s exploits with the other main protagonist – a young woman who he transports home for her grandfather’s funeral. Both of them are disenchanted with their lives and decide to strike up a partnership to sell crystal meth (the “ice poison” in the film’s title) throughout the city. With his taxi service, they have a ready delivery system on hand, while her worldly experience (she has just returned from living in China) proves useful in the marketplace. It’s a classic situation of a convenient buddy alliance, but it never feels contrived. Indeed, the tone that film establishes suggests that such partnerships could almost be commonplace in this world. The boredom displayed (half-hearted karaoke scenes are the film’s only moments of genuine levity) would certainly drive anyone mad.
This authentic boredom is also the source of some of the film’s main issues. The dull visuals and slow plotting are impressively devoid of artifice, but it also strains the audience interest. Even the most emotionally heightened scenes (the grandfather’s funeral for example) are played with such a matter-of-fact attitude that it limits the film’s dramatic power. The lead actor’s placid acting doesn’t help either. Reflecting on the overall achievement however, Midi Z. successfully accomplishes his goals(portraying these people and their world with honesty and truth), cinematic flare be damned. The style may prove tedious at times, but the plot has enough depth in content and theme to reward those willing to go along for the ride. For me, I found it to be an engaging exploration of the ideals of “The American Dream”. As such, its themes are both region-specific and universal. Evidently, anywhere you go, you’ll find that the struggle is real.
Beyond Beauty is excellent. It is a work of love, sincerity and pride on the land of Taiwan. On the surface it looks like a BBC or National Geographic production. Shot in HD with mostly aerial shots, Beyond Beauty is almost a moving physical geography textbook or a tourism promotion clip showing the stunning and therapeutic natural wonders of Taiwan, a beauty we have never experienced because of the different perspective from the sky.
What distinguishes this local production from the global documentaries, however, is the exposure of the saddening consequences of economic development – in agriculture, mining, fishing, manufacturing and tourism – which result in pollution and imbalance in the environment and climate change. It is red flagging us to pause and examine our priorities – it challenges what we have been doing to improve our lives and its threat in leaving a sustainable land and lifestyle for our descendants. The film also cites some examples of a few villagers who refuse to be developed/ modernized. Instead, they stick with organic farming to preserve the land for the generations to come.
The dilemma of economic development vs environment protection probably exists in every country, regardless of their level of development. With powerful images of the soothing natural beauty contrasting the horrifying man-made damages laying in front of us, Beyond Beauty presents an alarming and overwhelming wakeup call for all mankind to care for our earth after making us so proud of our resources.
The music performed by the Prague Symphony Orchestra perfectly highlights the masculine landscape while exemplifying the passion of the producers. When the film begins to depict the downside of recent economic development and its consequences, the music also follow suit. Custom composed music is soaring and inspirational in tone with great. Even in passages regarding Taiwan’s environmental woes (overbuilding, waste, rising sea, earthquake damage, overwhelmed landfills, many exist), music suggests a hopeful sentiment, a prevailing Taiwanese attitude. Narration finishes the film’s spirit that Taiwan is a special and unique land whose beauty is mostly unknown even to Taiwanese & Taiwanese-Americans themselves.
Internationally-acclaimed star Jackie Chan is Bei, a less-than-successful exercise equipment salesman who yearns for excitement in his life. One day, Bei follows his instincts and trails two-suspicious-looking men into action and foils their plans. The resulting publicity from Bei’s heroism brings him to the attention of a private investigator who informs him that he is actually the long-lost son of a wealthy businessman. Hoping to reunite with his true family, Bei travels to Korea where his father lies dying. Bei finds, to his astonishment, that both his parents lived the life he has longed for himself: they were both professional spies. Drawn into a dangerous game of cat and mouse where no one can be trusted, Bei travels to Turkey, where soon it’s up to him to track down a new, highly addictive narcotic before it ends up in the hands of evil drug lords.
Scripts to Jackie Chan movies are almost never anything to write home about. Sometimes however he has a story that is actually engrossing. This time around the script is horrid and the dialogue hits new lows. The most ridiculous plot-hole is the finale, where for some absurd reason Jackie with the unanimous applause of the whole international secret service and local police service decides to engage in a high-speed truck ride, where the truck’s cargo is petrol and on fire. The logical thing to do would be to stop the truck and run the hell out of there. But a Jackie Chan movie is never about script, plot holes or dialogue. Its about the action. And this time its un-CGI-ied Jackie Chan, the guy we’ve grown to know and love. The fights are some of Jackie’s best yet and are never boring, especially when Jackie is trying to escape from the spa. And no matter how idiotic the reasoning of the action is in the end you really just don’t care.
And it’s too bad, because there’s otherwise some good material here: drug kingpins and orphans, lost parents, competing spy agencies, and beautiful locations (especially those Istanbul and other parts of Turkey). It’s too bad that his escape from a Turkish bathhouse is wasted in this movie (you try to confront a half-dozen apes with only your bath towel to save you…and then not even the towel). The dubbing doesn’t help. Instead of offering the film in its original Chinese with subtitles (easily possible in this digital age), we’re stuck with dubbing that sucks away what little life remains in these two-dimensional characters. I really like Chan’s movies, but he could have phoned his performance in for this one. Chan, unfortunately, is missing from his own movie.
Chan himself is pretty amiable and brings his usual comedy and physical antics to the film. Sure he is not all that he was but he still makes the film better than it deserves to be. Support is better than it often is in this sort of thing – normally Chan’s support are rather vapid and are badly dubbed at best. Tsang, Hsu and others don’t make much of an impression but at least they aren’t that bad. Overall a pretty average film but remarkably is worth seeing if only because many of Jackie Chan’s recent films have been so damn awful. The action is good but there needed to be more of it, the plot works well enough to provide movement but is perhaps too messy for its own good and, all in all, it is one for Chan lovers looking for relief rather than the wider viewing public.
It’s mainland box-office never really kicked off since it is an an art cinema alternative from a first-time director and without any bankable names in it, still I was intrigued by its warm reviews (also it got three Golden Horse Awards nominations last year), so needless to say it is the kind of film I prefer to offer my contribution.
Adapted by a true story, a blind pianist prodigy Yu-Siang Huang, who plays himself in the film, and the film stretches out his pristine university life with a college drop-out girl’s endeavor to pursue her passion for dancing (played by Yung-Yung Chang, already a three-time Golden Horse Awards best actress nominee at the age of 25, including one she got from this film), the film’s greatest merit is the light touch of its tear-jerking scenario, the mother-son affection has managed to deliver a kitchen-sink authenticity without too many embellishments, actress Lieh Li who plays Huang’s mother, brilliantly incarnates a subtle flair of humbleness, lovingness and tenderness.
It is an encouraging film, exhorts everyone to follow his or her dreams, to strive for it, and it also shuns a hackneyed underdog’s victory, neither the quartet performance nor the dance competition has functioned as a means of gaining instant fame or success, more or less it symbolizes Huang’s motto – everybody is born equally, although he is blind, it should not be considered as his disadvantage or his perk, his zeal of music is out of his heart, not a tool to grandstand for his own favor, the same can be inducted to Yung-Yung, she may not be pick of the bunch, but when she dances, she radiates with happiness.
The uplifting theme is perpetually presented by a hazy cinematography (a nice focus on Huang’s eyes with mostly looking-up angle) under the accompany of gentle light and a melodic score, this type of film is categorized as a sub-genre in Taiwan’s cinematic scene, in Mandarin we call it “Xiao Qing Xin”, literally means “small, fresh and novel”, aiming at youngsters’ love and friendship in rural or urban lives. Touch of the Light is an engrossing storyteller, although all its components are stock-in-trade, the sleight of hand and a competent cast are worth at least some ovations and for me it is always delightful to discover new blood from that insular isle.
Rurouni Kenshin is composed of three films. The first film is complete in itself and others consist one story. The first live-action installment of Rurouni Kenshin judiciously cut several arcs from the original manga and anime story to deliver a tight, cohesive narrative that built up to a satisfying conclusion — even if it did reveal a few late-story secrets far, far too early. I know a lot of the critics’ complaints are centered on which aspects – too long, too many characters, too much info to digest, and the pacing is not furious enough. To some extent I do see where the complaints come from but I really didn’t mind the duration. For a layman like me, I feel the director, Keishi Ohtomo told his story with great clarity, perhaps even too much clarity. It does feel over-written especially if you already know the world of Kenshin. All the characters’ motivations are clearly depicted. There are indeed a myriad of characters on screen but I never have a feeling they are under-developed to the point of detriment. Perhaps the only relationship I feel suffered is the love between Kaoru and Kenshin. Wished I had seen more of that because she looks great.
One standout, however, is Tao Tsuchiya, who’s delightful to watch as Oniwa Banshu ninja Makimachi Misao. While her attempts at anime-style spunk don’t quite work, her full-throttle wire-assisted combat displaces enough bamboo to evoke positive memories of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Ryunosuke Kamiki (voice of Bo in Spirited Away and Marukuru in Howl’s Moving Castle) similarly sets up an effectively creepy Sojiro Seta, though in a film crammed with so many new characters, we don’t quite get to know who he is so much as simply what he does. As for the remainder of the supporting cast from the first film, they are almost entirely cut from the runtime, appearing only during Kenshin’s should-I-go-to-Kyoto quandary at the opening and then again at the end. This leaves Kenshin meandering the middle arc as an arbitrary avenger, with only an incidental connection to the travesties Shishio creates around him — and repeated scenes of women and children weeping extravagantly over dead bodies feels more desperate than driving. With Sato’s portrayal of Kenshin predominantly set to glower, we don’t get a clear sense of the radical shift between his carefree and killer states, and it’s unclear which moments truly resonate with the reformed assassin.
The action sequences are exceptionally well-choreographed, and generally fun to watch. But with so many featuring hero-vs-the-world stuntman slaughter, tension is quickly lost. While there are fits of incidental action, there are only two big one-on-one fights for the title character, and the second, though Bourne-like in its innovative use of tight spaces, involves an antagonist we barely know and who only serves to mechanically set up the next plot point (He’s also done up a little too ridiculously for a live-action villain — another area where deviation from the source material would have been wise). Taken on the whole, the film feels like watching only the first quarter of Kill Bill Volume 1 stretched to 139 minutes. Much sound and fury, signifying little — and even a citywide battle in the penultimate arc seems arbitrary and unearned. Having gone through so many unrelated minor objectives, the stakes are unclear and the emotional investment isn’t there. Perhaps this will all be put paid in the second half, promised in September. But until then, this Rurouni Kenshin feels long on tease and short on delivery.
For a movie that is about a cult manga, the titular characters all look and behave exactly like their manga counterparts. The clothes, intricate set designs and modern soundtrack, all tied in together for a sumptuous feast. I know I did miss out on some manga/anime references because the boisterous crowd last night was full on hyped up and laughing away. For a movie that is one week old the 90% crowd last night was superb. Finally, talking about boisterous audience, there were two PRC girls sitting in front of us. At the final scene where yet a new character is introduced, the two girls screamed their heads off and arms gesticulated everywhere. I am confident that Kyoto Inferno left a good ending to what will be a legendary beginning in The Legend Ends.