As a kid, Sonny lost his mother on their trip being smuggled to the US. The Snakehead Lady, leader of the smugglers, gave him to a new family thus he became brothers with Stephen. One day Stephen went missing and returned as a Green Dragon gang member. Sonny went with him and they grew up that way. One day the Dragon’s leader Paul has his relative Teddy and Teddy’s daughter Tina from Hong Kong. Sonny takes interest to Tina. But as they talk, men from rivaling White Tigers come and open fire on them, serious wounding Stephen with eight bullets in his chest. The Dragons exact revenge by kidnapping and killing a Tiger. Paul take Sonny to visit Ah Tai, the Tiger’s leader to make peace and propose a new business of smuggling heroine inside mooncakes, which Ah Tai agrees to.
Sonny arranges Teddy for the run. Teddy succeeds but as he deliver the powder to the Tiger’s base, cops storm the place. Paul closes the door on Ah Tai and Tina hates Sonny for Teddy going to jail. One day Sonney and Stephen collect tax from a car workshop owner, which deliver less from his part. A Tiger jumps on them but Stephen kills him quickly. Finding money shortage, Stephen tells their gang captain Dai Lo about his uncle having money stashed. They then rob the place and the captain let the Dragons rape the wife and daughter, which stuns Stephen. One night Sonny and Stephen went to teach a lesson to a restaurant manager who harassed the Dai Lo’s girl. When the manager finds out who Stephen is, he mocks him. Stephen shoots him repeatedly, also shooting a white man out of reflex when the man stands up.
This means Stephen breaks one cardinal rule of gang killing: no whites. Tina makes a deal for Teddy’s sake on info implicating the Dragons, enraging the gang. But after Tina dropped her case, Paul instructs the captain to kill Stephen. Paul leads the Dragons to execute Tina, in front of Sonny, with Paul giving Sonny another chance to “find his way back home”. Paul then goes missing as the six Asian gangs convene with Dai Lo as the Dragons’ leader. He kills the Tiger’s leader, instilling fear to the other gangs and uniting them in a drug running operation. Sonny rats on them so the police easily cracks down the operation, even arresting Dai Lo. Sonny followed Paul to Hong Kong. But as he’s about to kill Stephen, the Asian detective Tang whom Sonny ratted to comes and shoots Sonny dead.
The story is a fresh take on the gang war and violence scene after the scarce of such stories for quite a while. It’s hard boiled, tough and raw. To some degree it can capture the ferocity of the violent and rivaling gangs and their turf wars. However it’s kind of unbalanced as those violent scenes mostly take place indoors. I kind of grew up watching Hong Kong triad movies, especially the ones with Andy Lau or Ekin Cheng in them, most of which has some of Andrew Lau’s work. They sure have some nice fight or brawl scene outdoors. The acting overall however feels like it’s missing something. Justin Chon tries his best at an action-crime role, but being known as the Asian dude from Twilight sure doesn’t lift his status on this movie. The other casts just barely kept the acting going with no real effort on the expressions. Having Ray Liotta didn’t really help the acting overall. For me the movie overall feels like a Martin Scorcese movie about street gangs with Hong Kong standard acting.
Before going in, I didn’t realize that this was by the same director as the two Japanese “Ring” movies and the Japanese “Dark Water” or my expectations could have been too high. This is mostly a fantastical thriller with a little action. Not that much action since the antagonist often “freezes” people with his mind (think Professor Xavier in X-Men). In fact, this nameless man (I call him that way because it’s a mystery) can control anyone he sees and make them do what he wants. Despite this amazing power, he seems not to abuse it too much (except to steal) and lives “outside” of society, isolated, with no friends. That is until he encounters by chance the one person he cannot control. His nemesis, the “hero” Shuichi, is initially unaware of this man and might have remained so if not for the nameless man trying to kill him (actually thought it was an accident at first) and later becoming obsessed with him. How could a man survive against someone who can have anyone else kill him? Well, there’s more to the hero than just mind-control immunity.
We could only qualify the performance of the nameless man as intense, perhaps too much so. There was a cool, blue, swirling effect in his eyes when he used his power, but most of his emotions had to be conveyed silently. He was either extremely focused or what seemed to be terrible pain. I enjoyed his physical performance (he also limps) although his weird, child-like yet handsome face sometimes looked “constipated” provoking unintended laughter from the audience. The hero was more of an average, normal man, which was appropriate. Not a great performance, but OK. After a gripping intro in the childhood of the nameless man, there were a few very good moments where he froze lots of people, including the memorable end scene at a concert hall with people in danger of jumping down from balconies. How this was made was amazing. The scenes with less people (notably in the guitar repair shop) were less successful. Still, there was usually good dramatic tension because we often didn’t know what the troubled nameless man might do and how the hero could possibly stop it. In fact, I liked the ambiguity of the nameless man very much although he did do terrible things. I kind of felt sorry for him sometimes.
The movie was perhaps at its best in the intimate scenes with his mother. In contrast, the scenes between the hero and the love interest didn’t work for me and lacked chemistry. The worse thing though, and what turned a potentially very good thriller into something much less were the lame and “comic-relief” friends of the hero, including an effeminate gay caricature. Whenever they were around, they defused the suspense and turned the movie ridiculous. I understand the need for levity in such thrillers but this was too much. The scene with the friends at the sauna was particularly painful. Even when the friends weren’t around, it seemed there was a fine line between dramatic suspense and campy ridicule that might be crossed depending on your level of tolerance. The “freezing” scenes were not done as well as X-Men or the TV show Heroes – it was obviously people standing still – but I think it was done as well as it could have been done. I liked how straining his powers seemed to really hurt the nameless man (rotting his parts black), but this was unfortunately forgotten in the denouement. Wasted opportunity if you ask me. Some have compared the movie to X-Men or Unbreakable, and there are a few elements of those, but Monsterz is weaker and not that similar. Do not expect actual monsters or creatures either, as the “monsterz” are metaphorical. I think it’s worth watching provided you don’t expect too much and don’t mind too much the friends of the hero. You can’t call it original either because it’s a remake of a 2010 Korean film
There is a scene, about two thirds of the way through, in which an older woman, mother to three children, sits down with her eldest daughter and the boy she has fallen in love with, and for about five minutes, they speak to each other. These are hard times – all three know it. At the beginning of the scene, the mother is sceptical. She treats the two as children, with their heads in the clouds. But the conversation develops, and gradually, we realise a change in the mother. She cannot back down – in practical, surviving terms, she is in the right. But she softens her approach, and by the end, even has a kind of basic respect for the two, behind her frosty exterior. For she has seen the love that these two have for each other, and recognized it. It was then that I knew I was watching a great movie…
Zhang Jingqiu is a student sent to do research and write a report for her school on a small village in Yichang City. She stays with the head of the village and his family. While there, she meets Sun, a geology student. What follows is inevitable. But how delicately rendered it is: Jing is the most beautiful, innocent young woman Sun has ever seen, and Jing, emotional and vulnerable, is amazed by him. Love at first sight! But this isn’t as whimsical as it sounds. Yimou hasn’t completely forgotten his political ideals and ability for scathing criticism: with this latest endeavour, he explores just how stifled and suffocating Mao’s regime was for everyone under his power, and the emotional deadlock that threaten to destroy his protagonists at every turn. Frolicking, even in the most innocent sense of the work, was risky; Sun and Jing are from different classes, exacerbating the issue. Were they to be found out, her life and ambitions to work as a teacher would be ruined.
I was unsure, during the first half of the film, what to think. Yimou makes some interesting structural choices as regarding his narrative – many of the scenes are divided by inter-titles, telling us of an event we are not allowed to see, and then moving on to its aftermath. Most directors would die before doing this – especially in a film requiring the emotional impact this needs – and, I admit, I doubted its benefits at first. But instead of hindering the drive of the plot, Yimou has used it in such a way – not to cut the film into a digestible running length, but simply to avoid over melodramatics, and focus (almost entirely) on the couple in question. Supplementary information is given to us by other means – the filmed scenes are belong exclusively to Yimou’s exploration of our two protagonists’ relationship. It works perfectly.
Of course, we all know the rules. Both lovers are alive at the beginning; the same cannot be said after the end credits begin to roll. What makes this movie so wonderful isn’t its startling originality; it isn’t going to revolutionise cinema as we know it, or spark off long lasting controversy. Rather, what we are offered is a little less prestigious, but by no means less special. What we find is emotional honesty – when we start to cry at the end, we don’t feel cheated; instead, we revel in the director’s success. More importantly, though, we have felt for his characters, having engaged with them completely, and have a kind of renewed respect for the kind of pure, unconditional love we have been shown. The film is yet another example of Yimou’s mastery of the ‘anti-melodrama’ – much like his early work, this is incredibly restrained, beautifully measured and patiently observed, shot through with a warmth and tender humanity that shouldn’t inspire anything but admiration. Cynics – stay away. But for all the romantics out there (of which I, admittedly, am one), I couldn’t recommend this more highly. Simply put, it’s exquisite.
We’ve all been there, and done that. The moment you wake, you drown your heart with your vices, and even though the sun is shining bright, the day is cloudy but you do whatever it takes to keep the storm at bay. You know exactly what I’m talking about; heartbreak. Love can do the most horrific things to the soul. Time does heal all, but old habits don’t die so easily, especially when that special someone who made the days so dark, just pops back into your life. Old feelings begin to brew and you know what to expect, but you hope for the best anyways.
All of that is just the beginning for Ross, and it’s a simple magazine spread that gives him that tiny bit of hope. With a little push, once more he is able to set eyes on, and possibly win back the one that got away, Sofia. Their past is everything you’d expect it to be, messy, complicated yet lovely. While catching up with a drink, it’s more than obvious that the two are not ready to let go of their past, but their futures say otherwise. Sofia has modeling gigs waiting for her in New York, along with a serious boyfriend, and Ross still has a lot of working on himself to do.
However, that doesn’t stop them from escaping from their personal duties to have one more moment together, but on one condition; they don’t speak of Sofia’s boyfriend. During their sabbatical, more than just good old memories are reminisced, their act of love begins to bring out the best and the worst in each other. As the nights pass, both start to question what’s at the end of their escape. Whether the choice is made together, or is determined for them, it all boils down between what they want, and what they actually need.
Waves is anything but your ordinary love story, in fact it is quite the opposite. It is a chapter that we’re all very familiar with, and director Don Gerardo Frasco has recreated that very moment for us all to remember, that it is better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all. Cast, Baron Geisler and Ilona Struzik are the perfect pair, and their characters portray the exact ideal of every man and woman. With beautiful cinematography, and perfectly matched musical scores, there is no doubt you will be overwhelmed with nostalgia. It’s all similar to that adrenaline rush you feel, trying to get at least a hand above water. I certainly look forward to seeing Don Gerardo Frasco’s work hit the silver screen.
I had high expectation for Zhang Yimou’s latest film Coming Home, because he finally went back to tell a simple and plain story. I would say the royalty in China is alway considered very important especially for a woman in the past. In that age the Outbreak described, people deprived their emotions to others even their lovers for their safety. When Yanshi came back home and found the reality his wife Wanyu Feng had no memory to him, he was not desperate. He tried all kinds of methods to help Wanyu recover until he accepted the fact Wanyu couldn’t recover forever. He always felt happy only if he stayed with his wife. In their eyes, I had no feeling about hatred but cherishing. I extremely appreciate the Wanyu’s insistence for her husband Yanshi. I think this film shows the Chinese woman’s attitude to love.
To understand the film ,be sure to learn some background information and the history about the Cultural Revolution. Due to the censorship in China, Zhang can’t tell something about the story too obvious, so if you know nothing about that history, you will be confused by something happens in the film. And such thing behind its simpleness is the soul of the movie. However, Coming Home didn’t achieve that, I can barely feel anything behind its intended simpleness and schmaltz. Its soul is empty. Still, I have to admit, there are some good sides of the film, especially Gong Li and Chen Daoming’s amazing acting. Their performances are superb, one of the best performances I’ve seen in recent years. Also, I love the well-crafted first 10-minute and the sentimental ending. All in all, I appreciated Zhang’s trying of going back to the simple and I wish he could continue that. Coming Home may not be a fantastic film but it is still a well-crafted movie with some touching moments.
During the Chinese Cultural Revolution Lu is incarcerated far from his wife Yu and daughter Dandan. He escapes briefly to find the former is frightened but devoted, the latter hostile to him. At the end of the Cultural Revolution Lu is rehabilitated and sent home, only to find that his wife is suffering from a catastrophic condition that means she cannot remember him. The film centres on Lu and his now reconciled daughter’s efforts to restore her memory and their family life. Slow-paced, beautifully shot and bittersweet, the story is unravelled and revealed in a thoughtful and moving manner.
Gong Li slips into Wanyu’s broken soul with plenty of grace – which helps keep her predicament more interesting than it really is. Newcomer Zhang Huiwen fares well, too, in the tricky role of the flighty, difficult daughter whose teenage tantrums have sadly woven their way into the faultlines threaded through this family. With Coming Home, Zhang has crafted something very odd: a soap opera that aspires to say something a little more. It’s why the film can feel so powerful and so frustrating, often at the same time. Every Yimou movies has such sensibility. He really knows how to touch. Thank you Gong Li and Zhang Yimou.
No good artist ever gets too comfortable with their craft, otherwise there’s really nothing to separate them from the pack. It’s why certain names get elevated over others, simply because they have a voice that doesn’t adhere to something that’s uniform and one that’s willing to go the extra mile. When Kendrick Lamar dropped his now famous verse on Big Sean’s track, ‘Control’, he put the entire rap game on notice. In Lamar’s ‘Control’ verse, the rapper called out several of his peers – all relatively big names in the hip-hop community – and had essentially told them to lift their game because he was already quickly surpassing them all with his own lyricism, flow and overall quality. While it wasn’t intended as a ‘diss track’ (nor was it a coming-out party for the rapper who already won fans and critics over with his acclaimed album, ‘good kid M.A.A.D city’) Lamar’s verse became a huge talking point in hip-hop circles and eventually inspired responses from the same people he called out.
The same could be said of Japanese director Sion Sono. Despite an already long career as a filmmaker, Sono’s name became far more noticeable once amongst filmgoers once he released his four-hour opus, Love Exposure. Now with his latest feature Tokyo Tribe, a comedic action rap musical, Sono gives to audiences his own ‘Control’ verse. With Tokyo Tribe, the filmmaker manages to carve yet another refreshingly arresting feature, one that that truly does feel like as though it puts the admittedly stagnant Japanese filmmaking scene on notice. Based on a manga, the film is set in a beautifully nightmarish version of Tokyo where each district is ruled by nefarious gangs, each with their own set of principles and their own introductory raps. When members of the Musashino Saru are lured into Wu-Ronz territory in Bukuro, it ignites a war between the two rival gangs which eventually involves every other gang in Tokyo. The film is guided by an elusive rapping narrator, MC Show (Himizu’s Shota Somentani), who weaves in and out of the narrative.
Tokyo Tribe has a pulsating energy to it that is unlike anything Sono has put out before. The film’s fun rhythm and energy is largely infectious and in terms of its ambition, it’s hard to even compare Sono’s rap musical to anything else currently available in Japan or anywhere else. Flow, ever so important in rap, is something that Sono’s film certainly doesn’t lack in as Tokyo Tribe is punctuated by a myriad of gorgeously smooth, long single-take shots that mesh beautifully with the film’s action set-pieces and are edited well into the rap performances themselves. Sono’s kinetic camera is just as much a participant in the film as its characters are and is equally important in building the fictional universe of the film. Tokyo Tribe’s wonderfully orchestrated opening sequence is an example of this as Sono’s camera moves from one person to the next in a single uninterrupted shot as they navigate their way around town – establishing the world of the film while also giving audiences a personal tour of it.
And much like how Why Don’t You Play In Hell was Sono’s own love letter to filmmaking, Tokyo Tribe certainly feels like as though it demonstrates a respectful and appreciative attitude towards rap culture while also being uniquely Sono at the same time. The film could have easily been phoned in or thrown pot shots at rap music and the culture surrounding it but Sono’s enthusiasm towards it appears to be quite genuine, especially considering his casting of actual rappers for the film – a solid move that only further cements Tokyo Tribe’s hip-hop music video aesthetic.
If you ever thought to yourself a film like Crows Zero or The Warriors could have used with a whole heaping dose of rap, Sion Sono’s Tokyo Tribe will certainly get you there. Destined for cult status, Tokyo Tribe stands out head and shoulders above its competition simply based on its brazen attitude and compellingly unique viewing experience. What could have been yet another street gang film is transformed into something spectacular just by simply turning the tried-and-true formula on its head by making it into a lavish musical. With Tokyo Tribe, Sion Sono challenges other filmmakers to make a film as exhilarating, exciting and daring as his. Only time will tell if anyone will respond and step up to the challenge that Sono has laid out to his filmmaking peers. But for the time being, we have to ask ourselves where does director Sono’s unpredictable film career go from here?
Mutt Boy is probably the least glamorous role Woo-Sung Jung has taken on his shoulders ~ but that itself reflects the drive to be more than just a pretty face which unfortunately constitutes much of the “Hallyu” wave sweeping Southeast Asia and the world off their feet. His performance as Chol-min is simply a pleasure to watch, from the way he does laundry, the slight lisp and hunched shoulders to spitting food while eating; these are just some examples of Jung’s embodiment of his character.
Mutt Boy, Dong-gae, tells the story of Chul-min, nicknamed Stray Dog, a young man who possesses little intelligence, but one hell of a temper. The son of a detective, Stray Dog’s only boyhood friends is a mixed breed dog that follows him everywhere for several years. Because of his slow nature, Stray Dog is often the target of bullies. However, either because of his slow-witted nature or lack of care, he rarely becomes angry. Yet, after members of the soccer team make his dog into dinner, Stray Dog brutally beats one member of the team and pursues Jin Mook the chief bully. However, before Stray Dog is able to beat up Jin Mook, his father comes along and takes him away.
After the incident, Stray Dog drops out of high school and spends his days stealing money from his father, watching television, and preparing meals. Two key events change his humdrum life. First a couple members of a gang of dropouts challenge Stray Dog to a fight and second a young girl, Jung-ae, an orphan and thief, moves into the family home at his father’s behest.
Although my review makes Mutt Boy out to be a serious drama, this film is actually quite a comedic experience. Jung Woo Sung does a wonderful job depicting the brain-dead, but big hearted Stray Dog and some scenes in the film, such as inside the massage parlor will make you guffaw. However, some aspects of the film will leave one wondering “huh?” because they have little impact film’s primary story line and seem to be little more than filler. Mutt Boy is well worth the time it takes to watch it, but for repeated viewings try Gwak’s film Friend instead.
Open City is a story about the leader of an international pickpocket organization led by sexy siren Baek Jang Mi, played by Son Ye Jin,who returns to Korea after blowing her cover in Japan. Keeping a low profile by running a small tattoo parlor, she soon organizes a new ring which quickly gains power across the country. Top-notch criminal investigator Jo Dae Young,portrayed by Kim Myung Min, is called in to handle the massive pickpocket crime that is spreading like wildfire. Besieged by a dark family secret, Dae Young reluctantly takes on the case. A fatal attraction ignites when the detective saves Jang Mi from the hands of her rival ring members. Ensnared by her brazenly sexual advances, Dae Young is shocked when he later learns that she is his investigation’s prime target. With so much riding on the outcome, he trails her right into her tattoo parlor. But once again, he finds himself gambling away his basic instincts in the name of passion.
This is first Korean film to reveal the intricate inner workings of what is considered Korea’s equivalent of the FBI, Open City also offers a riveting first-hand look at the various methods of pick pocketing that will have the audience think twice before leaving the house. Completely smitten by Son’s beauty is Kim Myung Min who breathes much charisma into his complex role as a criminal investigator. As he finds himself caught in the deadly predicament of falling for his investigation’s prime target, the on screen chemistry between the him and Son Ye-jin leads explodes to a new high.
Son Ye-Jin tries to master the art of seduction in Open City, an erotic crime thriller penned and directed by Lee Sang Ki in his first feature film. The chameleon actress is enchantingly breathtaking as the sexy, manipulative femme fatal who leads an organized pickpocket ring.Unfortunately, I find her performance as the sexy siren in my opinion is a little bit forced and somewhat unconvincing.It is hard to play a sexy siren considering that she is probably a very sweet and elegant girl in real life.I t is like asking Audrey Hepburn to play the lead role of Basic Instinct. But nevertheless, the Korean actress’ performance is not below average. Tightly coiled with sexual tension throughout the film, Open City shows all the right moves in all the right places.This movie is highly recommended. The action scenes were great. It was one hell of an action thriller.
In a world torn by a war between vampires and angels, a female vigilante on the hunt for her missing sisters is lured into the den of a vampire. Bloodtraffick is a independently produced short film from Hong Kong, it’s written and directed by Jennifer Thym. We are in Underworld-esque territory, good performances from the cast, it´s professionally shot and edited with some really nice visuals on display. The 11 minute short serves both as a standalone film and a prequel to a feature film with a distinct, gritty Hong-Kong feel and influenced by modern action & horror films as well as videogames.
This reminds me of Blade: The Series, which had incredibly bloddy fight scenes for a television show. From the looks of this short film teaser trailer, this may contain similar fight scenes…hopefully. There also seems like there is some of the posing from Versus mixed in here as well. Short and focused on the visuals of its story (without glossing over the narrative’s emotional impact though), Bloodtraffick is above all else – fun: Basically, the film is a collection of beautiful images held together by a refreshingly skeletal story that culminates in a hard-hitting (and well-staged and -paced) action sequence – in other words, great genre entertainment!