Posts filed under: ‘Movie Ping 影評‘




Bodyguards And Assassins 十月圍城 (2009) – HK Movie

Bodyguards And Assassins (十月圍城) was released in Dec 2009.  Producer is Peter Chan (陳可辛), Director is Teddy Chen (陳德森).   Casts (all star!) included Tony Leung Ka Fai as Chen Shao Bai 陳少白, Wang Xue Qi as Li Yu Tang 李玉堂, Donnie Yen as Shen Chong Yang 沈重陽, Wang Po Chieh (a 19-year old from Taiwan) as Li Chong Guang 李重光, Nicholas Tse as Ah Si 阿四, Li Yu Chun (李宇春) as Fang Hong 方紅, Simon Yan as Fang Tian 方天, Hu Jun as Yan Xiao Guo 閻孝國, Mengke Bateer as Wang Fu Ming (Munk) 王復明, Eric Tsang as Smith 史密夫, Leon Lai as Liu Yu Bai (Beggar) 劉郁白, Fan Bing Bing as Li yu Tang’s Mistress.

The story was set on the one of the most significant milestones of China in the beginning of the 20th century.  The Father of the Nation, Sun Wen (孫文/ 孫中山/ 孫逸仙), a fugitive then, was mobilizing Chinese inside and outside of China to overthrow the corrupted Qing Dynasty – he wanted to liberate the Chinese people and ensure people had work and they were fed.  He believed that no one should be born a master nor a slave and people should have the freedom to choose their ruler.   A strategic advocate of democracy to revive China when she was in a turmoil and was invaded by eight-countries, Sun was planning a “secret” meeting with leaders from 13 provinces (in China) in Hong Kong, a British colony then.   The news of the meeting was leaked and Sun was in a great danger of being the next political assassination’s victim.  Sun’s friend and coordinator at HK, Chen Shao Bai, involved his friend and his newspaper’s sponsor, Li Yu Tang to protect Sun during his visit.

This movie is not about Sun.  It’s about Sun’s bodyguards and those assassins sent to eliminate Sun.  It’s a tribute to those who sacrificed for the cause of a better home, a better society, a better country.  It’s nice to see that even the main archenemy, the head of the assassin, Yan Xiao Guo, got depths in his character.

I had no idea what this movie was about before my hubby rented it (Blu-Ray!).  I even had no idea who was in the movie.  And I am not sure if it’s because I had no expectation at all or the movie was actually a great one that the 2-hours+ just went by without knowing – it was a sincere and thoughtful movie.

This movie has already won Film of Merit and Best Actor (Wang Xue Qi) in the 16th HK FIlm Critics Society Awards.  It has been nominated in 19 categories (i.e. almost all categories, except in Best Actress in a Lead Role, New Director and Asian Film) in the 29th HK Film Awards – results will reveal on April 18th, 2010.    To me, this is a loud voice of how well-balanced this movie is.

Stunning set –  a well-researched, detailed Queen Street Central and its surrounding streets in 1906 revamped.  Leung Ka Fai’s bi-focal glasses.  Harsh (at times bloody) and powerful fight scenes.  All the stars deliver.  Wang Xue Qi is totally convincing.  I am pleased with Nicholas Tse (shake-off that handsome face and there I see your more vivid acting skills), and impressed by Li Yu Chun (can’t believe she’s new in filming – she’s so natural).  And boy, Leon was cool (love that chubby face and fluffy hair (but the hair’s too clean, so is his face!)) and his lover (M.R.) was so pretty!  Last but not least, I want to tell Teddy that your past 10 years (for preparation and making of this film) was not spent in vain.  Well done, Teddy!  All the best and please make more good movies.

Add a comment February 16, 2010

The Storm Warriors II 風雲 II (2009) – HK Movie

The Storm Warriors II (風雲 II) is the sequel to the movie-turned-movie The Storm Rider (風雲之雄霸天下) released in 1998.  Producers / Directors are the Pang Brothers of HK, story is Ma Wing Shing (the manhwa creator of Fung Wan 風雲 (and Chinese Hero 中華英雄)), Action Chrorgrapher is Ma Yuk Sing, Art Director is Yee Chung Man, Special Effect is Fat Face.   Main cast includes Wind (Fung) by Ekin Cheng, Cloud (Wan) by Aaron Kwok, Nameless (Mo Ming) by Kenny Ho, Chu Chu by Tang Yan, Second Dream by Charlene Choi and the archenemy Lord Godless (Jud Mo Shun) by Simon Yam.

Because of my big bro, I watched the Fung Wan manhua when I was a kid.  I remember the characters but not the story.  And I remembered I like the first Fung Wan movie, The Storm Riders.  So when Hubby asked if I wanted to watch the sequel, I said yes.  We got the Blu-Ray version.

The storyline is easy to follow most of the time.  It is about a Japanese Warlord trying to take over China, and a bunch of marshal-art fighter-turned-hero trying to defend the territory.  Nameless was the top fighter but he’s poisoned by Lord Godless and he hurt himself fighting Lord Godless with remains of the poison in his body.  Cloud and Wind were then given the heavy task to try to boost their skills up to match Lord Godless in a very short time.  Wind took the path to deal with the evil spirits to enhance his skills, while Cloud became a student of Nameless.  Wind was supposed to only leverage on the power of the evil spirits and not to be taken control over by them.  But the plan was void when he pre-maturely quited from the course of the deal to save his lover, Second Dream.  The cost of that was he lost control over to the evil spirits and he turned into a nasty assassin of no past memory forgetting even who Cloud was and killing the innocents.  The female characters don’t have much scenes, but they play a key in several important plot turns.  The end featured a dual sword fighting between Cloud and Wind.

It’s a very nice surprise – this movie is very nicely made.  It intentionally kept the manhua style of story telling.  The combat scenes are beautifully and powerfully chreographed.  The CG is very nice.  The shooting is done elegantly – lovely frame composition.  The scenary is painted stunningly.  The color contrast is vivid.  Nice costumes.  And of course, handsome looking Ekin and Aaron are eye candies.  The duet song (by Aaron and Ekin) is nicely sung.

Don’t miss the special add-ons – the Making-Of, the interviews etc.  See the professional side of Aaron and Ekin behind the reel.

This film let you experience the power of Blu-Ray.  Storm Warriors II – bravo!

Add a comment February 13, 2010

Gran Torino (2008) and Up (2009) – American Movies

I watched these two movies recently – Gran Torino (2008) and Up (2009).

The Gran Torino  is a Ford-produced car in the late 60’s to early 70’s.  A 1972 Ford Gran Torino Sport SportsRoof was featured in the Gran Torino (2008) movie directed by and starring Clint Eastwood.  Nowadays when people think of the most popular Ford-made sports car, perhaps most people will say Mastang.  But Gran Torino was once a popular and best-selling car model at its time.  This movie features the life of a recently-widowed Ford car assembly worker and Korean-war veteran, Walt, after his wife passed away.  His relationship with the two sons and their families contrasted with his new neighbour of the H’Mong (Vietnam) heritage.  He owned a Gran Torino which he assembled and prized.  His grand-daughter eyed it.  She asked if she could have it when he died on the day his wife had the funeral.  This car also sparked a never-expected relationship among Walt, Thao and Sue (the son and daughter of his new Hmong neighbour).

Up (2009) is an animation movie produced by Pixar.  This is a fairy tale in the modern days.  It’s about an old man, Carl, in a floating house, (stuck) with a boy scott, Russell,  to his dream target of a long time.  Carl’s wife, Ellie, talked about visiting this place, the Paradise Falls, when they were kids.  They got married and had started to save up for this trip.  But the trip fund was used for different reasons so the trip got put off.  After Carl’s lifetime partner wife died, he decided to fly to this dream place.  Russell needed to collect his final badge before he could be promoted as a senior Wilderness Explorer scott, hence he set his target to help this senior.  The two had an adventure together.

I want to draw a comparison between these two movies.

First, both movies, in my opinion, pay fine tributes to seniors.  When seniors may be viewed as grumpy, difficult-to-please old folks by the younger generations, (sadly sometimes even by their own off-springs,) these two films present them as a special group of people who are wise and experienced.  Tho sometimes they may be emotional, they also have a warm heart and caring soul – younger generations just need to spend time and respect them in order to get to the inner characters.  Once connected, they may both experience a mutual enlightenment in each other’s presence.

Second, regardless of age, there’s something every one prize in his/her heart.  In Gran Torino,  the old sport car was Walt’s treasure; in Up, the house was Carl’s precious.  They serve as almost the only single prized connection to their passed wife.  These objects have brought many sweet and lovely memories to these senior subjects.  For the juniors in the films, Thao, In Gran Torino, a teen H’Mong seeks peer acceptance, while Russell, in Up, a boy scott works hard to gain love from a distant Dad.  Both films reveal the before-and-after when the subjects give their prized objects up.

Young people, take the courage and lead to make the first contact.  Some seniors have a sad and bitter past.  Loosing their life-long partner is a big loss to them, sometimes so big that it gets their better half of themselves.  If you have a chance, be nice to the aged.  Consider yourself  lucky if you still have your grand-parents or even parents around.  Be nice to them.  Don’t just lust after the money and assets (oh Lord…) and only see the inheritance.  The Chinese has a saying, “A tree wants to be still but the wind doesn’t take a break; a son wants to serve their parents but they don’t stay awaiting” (樹欲靜而風不止,子欲養而親不待也 – 【出處】:漢·韓嬰《韓詩外傳》卷九).  Do the right thing at the right time.

Lastly, one theme is very important – holding on to past grudges will only block you from present and future happiness.  Throw away prejudices.  Age gap.  Racial discrimination.  Time won’t pause for you.  It’s up to yourself to live a happy life or a bitter life for the days to come.  Let go of the past, free up your hands to hold better, happier treasures to come.  Oui, I don’t mean let go of your aged spouse and get a younger girl / boy friend!!

Both films have very serious life lessons to be learnt AND the presentation is NOT-AT-ALL boring.  I believe you will enjoy them.

Add a comment November 15, 2009

Hwang Jung Min and Shadow Murder 검은집 (2007) – Korean Movie

Hwang Jung Min (황정민) – a name Korean movie goers will not forget.

If you pick your movies or dramas just by the look of the leads, you could have easily skipped his work.  But – you really have *NO IDEA* how much you’ve missed out.  Seriously.

I have not exhausted his work yet.  Actually I bumped into his work purely by accident.  After I watched k-drama “Lovers in Prague” (프라하의 연인, 2005, SBS), I was interested in seeing more work of both leads, Jun Do Yeon and Kim Joo Hyuk (whom I have briefly discussed before).  Then I came across this movie, “You Are My Sunshine” (너는 내 운명, 2005, Korean Movie) with Jun Do Yeon as the Female Lead and Hwang was the Male Lead.  I had no idea who Hwang Jung Min was then.  After watching “You Are My Sunshine”, I became more curious of Hwang.  His role in that movie was a “below average Joe”, late middle-aged farmer Seok Joong who received coffee delivery from Eun Ha, a staff of a rural coffee shop.  She delivered products of the coffee shop in a small town, and sometimes she offered “special services” to the male customers as well.  This is a melodrama.  Then I watched Hwang’s another movie, “A Man Who Was Superman” (슈퍼맨이었던 사나이, 2008, Korean Movie).  Hwang played a superman whose single mission is to save the earth and has been doing that for the longest time, until a producer/reporter met him and looked at the “superman”‘s x-ray report.  This is a very meaningful story that makes you think and reflect a lot.  I was swept head over heel – Hwang Jung Min’s performance was shockingly and amazingly solid.  Since then, I’m convinced – show me his name, and I am sold (almost).

Yesterday I heard of Hwang’s movie, Shadow Murder (검은집, also called Black House) (2007) (original story from a Japanese horror novel by Yusuke Kishi which has also been made into a Japanese movie “The Black House“(1999)), where he played a new insurance agent investigaing a death of a boy which leads him to a series of murder cases.   This is a thriller.  I am looking forward to this when I get a hold of it.  Actually, I am going to watch his first k-drama “That Fool” (그바보, 2009, KBS2) – I think it will be worth just by enjoying his performance.

Hwang Jung Min – a sweet charm in the heart.  A rare gem in the K-entertainment industry.   Highly recommended.  🙂

1 comment September 5, 2009

Who’s What in … Which Movie? Part 1

Lately I amused my hubby by not knowing who’s playing what role in movies we watched before.  So he would pop me a trivia question, and I’d go…  what?…  WHAT – REEEEALLY? and we had some fun. 

Who’s common in the following:  (and let’s start with the easy ones, shall we?)

A) The Bone Collector (1999), Wanted (2008),  Girl, Interrupted (1999)

B) The Lord of the Rings:  The Fellowship of the Rings (2001), Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007), Black Hawk Down (2001)

C) Love Actually (2003),  King arthur (2004), Pride & Prejudice (2005)

D) The Devil Wears Prada (2006), Rachel Getting Married (2008), Becoming Jane (2007)

E)  Underworld (2003), The Kingdom of Heaven (2005), Frost/Nixon (2008)

Answers to be posted by the first smartest reader (aka my movie junkie reader).   🙂

Add a comment August 22, 2009

Thirst 박쥐 (2009) – Korean Movie

This Korean movie, Thirst, was released in Toronto yesterday August 7th, 2009, along with other movies like G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (with Korean actor Lee Byung Hun), Julie & Julia,  (500) Days of Summer etc.

I told my hubby last week about Thirst and G.I. Joe.  Thursday I started to see the Thirst ad (the N.A. version (the one on the left in this link) was actually banned in Korea; the one on the right is the Korean version) in Toronto’s newspaper.  I noticed it’s only screened in two theatres.  (I think Thirst has limited screening in Canada – only B.C., Ontario and Quebec currently.)  I asked Hubby if we could watch either one Saturday.   Friday evening I brought it up again. ” There are more theatres showing G.I. Joe…” I said.  “You’re kidding…” Hubby said.  Hubby even knew that there’s a Korean actor in it, tho he doesn’t know exactly the name, but he got the family name and the last character in the name correct.  Finally I said, either one.  Then half an hour later, he said, “Thirst.  At least, it has a 7.9 score… ”  Thirst it was!  We watched it today!  😉

Director, writer and producer Park Chan Wook 박찬욱 – a name familiar to Korean movie goers.  His Vengeance Trilogy (3 movies:  Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002), Oldboy (2003), Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (2005) ), I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK (2006) are highly received – many have won awards in international film festivals.   Park co-wrote Thirst with Jeong Seo Gyeong 정서경.  They have previously written Sympathy for Lady Vengeance and I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK together.  Thirst‘s cast includes Song Kang Ho 송강호 as Sang Hyun, Kim Ok Bin 김옥빈 as Tae Ju, Shin Ha Kyun 신하균 as Tae Ju’s husband, Kim Hae Sook 김해숙 as Tae Ju’s mother in law.

The story is about Sang Hyun, an orphaned, Catholic priest participated as a volunteer for a medical research project fighting a deadly virus which mostly attacks men that are sexually inactive; among the patients many are missionaries, hence the virus is called Emmanual Virus, EV.  During the course of his volunteer term, he got blisters all over his face and limbs.  At the end, EV caused him to cough blood.  He got blood transplantation on the surgery bed.  He’s certified (dead) by the doctor but he came back alive.  He returned to Korea as an infamous band-aided priest who’s the only survivor among 500+ volunteers who died in the project.  Many have come to ask for his blessings for their sick family members.  There he met his childhood friend and his wife, Tae Ju who was abondaned when she was very little in Tae Ju’s house.  Tae Ju then stayed with her now-husband and was arranged by the mother to marry her son.  Then the story continued along how Sang Hyun turned into a vampire (the Korean movie name means “bat”) and how he and Tae Ju murdered her husband and the aftermath.

This movie is rated 18A (Ontario/B.C.) (I originally thought it’s rated R).  It has blood sheds.  It has murders.   It has violence.  It has sex scenes and both the actor and the actress go nude.  It doesn’t have sudden scary / frightening scenes.  Park tells the story in a direct way – he doesn’t magnify or enhance or tweak these elements in a fancy way.  Don’t be mistaken that it’s within the ordinary – it’s not quite that!  He’s brutally and honestly presenting the mental (and eventually they physical) states of Sang Hyun to his audience – his pain, his guilt, his lust, his control, his let-loose, his falling, his awakening.  His take on vampire movies is atypical – it’s different than how other directors tell vampire stories.   Blood crave, the sun, plus some super power seem to be the few common denominators among vampire-themed movies; even when told, they are done differently.  There’s no vampire teeth to show here, and who has ever seen a vampire with blisters? 

Since the centre of the story revolves around a priest, there’s unavoidably a religious tone ringing throughout the movie tho not a heavy nor deep one.  In a quarrel scene, I’m subtly reminded of Adam and Eve – not sure if it is intentional or not.  I see the theme of rebirth – life transformation; however it’s the opposite direction as supposed to be a better person.  Instead of a spiritual struggle, perhaps it’s more appropriate to say that the discusion is about barebone human nature.  I also witness a new application of a ruler.  :O

Love the cast!  I’ll go back to The Host (2006) and Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance to follow up on Song Kang Ho.  I watched Sympathy for Lady Vengeance for Lee Young Ae but I don’t remember him nor know about Park.  Thirst is the fourth collaboration (hope I didn’t count wrong) between Park (director/co-writer) and Song (co-writer).  Certainly look forward to future ones.  I watched I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK because of Im Su Jeong and Rain (Bi), and I didn’t know about Park either.  I’ll try to catch Oldboy.  Kim Ok Bin is also good.  This is a tough role to play.  Especially enjoy her post-transformation part – she seems stronger (and crazier) but she’s actually the weaker one.   Song and Kim compliment each other nicely here.   Of course, Shin Ha Kyun who plays the half-guilty/half-framed sicky husband, and Kim Hae Sook who’s the frantic and depressing Mother-In-Law help!  The credit also goes to Park as well.

Park is not just straight forward and serious.  He can be amusing (humorous) too – some scenes made me giggle.  When did I last giggle in a vampire movie?  Sang Hyun tried to finish his bat-like life twice – I found both sequences comical in a way.  If you’ve watched I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK, then you shouldn’t be surprised.  I am also impressed in how he handled the post hubby-murder scenes.  So humorous, so daunting, so real and so sad!  He’s done a good job in balancing the tone of the movie.

Hubby asked me a trivial question after:  how was the Mother-In-Law able to move her finger?  (She was paralyzed during the movie; I just thought she wasn’t so paralyzed so the story could develop further… but hey, my hubby gave a perfect reason!)   Any one?

If you haven’t watched Thirst, give it a try.  I consider myself lucky that I don’t need to wait for it to be released on DVD before I can watch it.  Let me know what you think of it.  -yo (please).

 

** Updates on Sept 5th (source from dramabeans):  “Thirst” brought awards to the following in the 17th Chunsa Film Festival :

     Park Chan Wook – Director Award

     Song Kang Ho – Top Excellence, Actor

     Kim Hae Sook – Supporting Actress

     Park Hee Joo – Lighting

     Congratulations!!  ***

2 comments August 9, 2009

The Sniper 神鎗手 (2009) – HK Movie

Hubby and I caught another movie over the weekend – The Sniper 神鎗手 (2009), a HK movie.

Director is Dante Lam and the writer is Jack Ng.  This is the second movie they made together; the first one was The Beast Stalker (2008).  Cinematography is by Cheung Man-Po and Editing is by Angie Lam.

Cast includes Richie Ren 任賢齊 as Fong 方克明, Huang Xiaoming 黃曉明 as Ling 凌靖, Edison Chen 陳冠希 as O J 陳新偉/O仔, Bowie Lam 林保怡 as Shan 山哥, Jack Kao 高捷 as Ip 葉滔 etc.

This movie revolves around Fong, a lead in the sniper team of the Special Duties Unit (SDU), a subdivision of the Hong Kong Police, his archenemy Ling, and Fong’s protege, OJ.  Shan’s role bridges these 3 characters – he’s the only person who can talk to each and all of them at ease without irritating / aggrevating the other.  Ip is the bad guy in the movie.  He set Fong and Ling apart – once in the same sniper team, Ip’s the trigger Fong and Ling went the opposite way.

I don’t fancy guns but this movie managed to keep my interest level up.  The story is very well written.  The actors are very good – all of them deliver a superb performance.  Dante Lam does a great job as a director.  The tone and pace are very well controlled.  I enjoyed this movie.

(Ladies – eye candy alert’s in effect  🙂  )

I hope this movie will earn this team some awards in the coming year.

1 comment July 27, 2009

Shinjuku Incident 新宿事件 (2009) – HK Movie

I asked my husband why we were renting this DVD – Shinjuku Incident 新宿事件?  He said, this is a Derek Yee (爾冬陞)’s movie with Jackie Chan (成龍).

I am immediately intrigued.  Jackie Chan in a drama, not selling Kung Fu and not trying to act funny…  under Derek Yee’s hand, I am dying to witness this mix! 

Team includes Derek as Director and Co-writer; the other Writer is Chun Tin-Nam.  Music by Peter Kam, and cinematography by Kita Nobayasu.  Editing by Cheung Ka-Fai (not to be confused with Actor Nick Cheung (name is Cheung Ka Fai as well)) and Kong Chi-Leung.  Cast includes Jackie Chan as Steel Head 鐵頭, Daniel Wu as Ah Jie 阿傑,  Naoto Takenaka as Inspector 北野, Masaya Kato as Eguchi 江口, Xu Jinglei as Xiu Xiu 秀秀 / Yuko 結子 (Eguchi’s wife), Chin Kar Lok as HK Chai 香港仔, and many other solid actors and actresses in the supporting roles. 

Shinjuku is one of the 23 wards in Tokyo, Japan.  A busy commercial and administrative district in the day, and a red-light district of bars, brothels at dark, Shinjuku has the most mixed foreign nationalities registered in Tokyo.  This movie is about stories of different people in Shinjuku, Japan, local and immigrants alike, how they help and use others to survive in, adapt to, establish and excel in making money and gaining statuses, and how they mingle,  tangle and arm-wrest with the local underworld powers, and how the underworld tie to the upper world.  Racial tension seems to be a theme, but you’ll see that it’s just the surface – just an excuse.  It is about desire and lust, loyalty and betrayel, money and politics.  Steel Head landed in Shinjuku, reunited with his neighbour in China Ah Jie, trying to find his girl friend, Xiu Xiu whom had lost touch with him since her departure to Shinjuku.  Ah Jie and Steel Head were squeezed in a small, rundown house with many other Asians.  Not having an official status in Japan, they had to do dirty jobs that locals wouldn’t do.  The group wasn’t united until Ah Jie were severly harmed by a Taiwanese triad lead.  Steel Head became the leader of this group and he joint force with Eguchi, the number two man in a Japanese triad force, after discovering Xiu Xiu wedded Eguchi and had a beautiful daughter.  Steel Head started a new relationship with a bar owner.  When this group finally chased the most feared Taiwanese group away, Steel Head opened a mechanics store and they were planning to live a new life somewhere away from this place.  At the end, it’s like a dream.  I am not sure if there’s a winner at the end.  Hm… 

Derek Yee (爾冬陞) – a master class director in HK filming, particularly strong in drama, Derek has a long list of filmography (the Chinese wiki of his has a more complete listing).  He was an actor before he became a director and writer.  My favourites include C’est la vie, mon chéri /Endless Love (新不了情) (1993), The Truth About Jane And Sam (真心話) (1999),  One Night in Mong Kok (旺角黑夜) (2004), Protégé (門徒) (2007).  In Shinjuku Incident (2009), Derek takes the role as a director and co-writer.

Jackie Chan.  Who doesn’t know Jackie?  Do I need to write more?  (I will write more about his performance later.)

Daniel Wu – he has been in Derek’s films before (do you know which ones?) so this is not their first project together.   He also partook a film with Jackie Chan (again, do you know which one?).  In Shinjuku Incident, I am not saying he is not good.  I just expect to see more from this promising actor.  He is very good at releasing his extreme and wild emotions and his looks and style help.  Those scenes, when he was playing wild, are very exciting to watch.  In the movie, due to a series of traumatic experiences, his character had a 180 degree transformation.  I’m never let down on his wild side.  I am not sure if it’s because of the location or what, somehow, I feel that Daniel is a little “side-tracked” this time.  I feel that he’s not 100% into this character.  His performance before the character turned wild was, should I say, relatively weak – perhaps unimpressive is the right word.  A weak character can be played impressively.  Compared to his performance in One Night in Mong Kok, I think I like his performance in that movie better.   I told my hubby about this thought, and he said, he’s being himself.  (oops.)

Xu Jinglei is always good.  She’s always to the point.  The way she speaks Japanese is commented by Masaya highly – even her tone is like a local Japanese woman – very soft and comforting.  I like her in this movie.

Masaya san- oh.  He’s handsome – dropdead gorgeous.  (!!!!)  🙂  I mistaken him for another Japanese actor, Fujiki Naohito whom was the pastry chef in Antique Bakery (Japanese Drama).  I thought he’s aged by special make-up.  But when I looked up Masaya’s age, I knew they can’t be the same person.  His role as Eguchi was a nice fit and his performance was convincing tho his character was not written entirely consistant *I feel*.  I hope to see more of his work.  Any recommendations?

Naoto san,  the Mr. Cool Inspector.  He had a relatively small role, tho I think he may be the only positive role in the movie.  I see his dedication and effort in his parts.  Admire the way he learned to speak Mandarin.  I salute you, Naoto san.

Fan Bingbing as the bar owner, a smart, agile and independent woman, perhaps many women envy her role (coz she can slap Jackie?)  LOL. 

Chin Kar Lok, actually, the Action Director in this movie as well – I’ve seen this performance before la.  Don’t take any more role like this la.  Keep up the good work as an Action Director la.

Jackie.  Jackie!  What can I say.  OK – how about this.  When I watched the Making (documentary), Daniel commented on one scene where Jackie was kneeling beside him crying, he said “Dai Goh (Big Brother) cried so much that I cried too because of him”.  OK.   That was a moving cry.  But I am not sure if that level of cry was called for in this scene.    Perhaps it was called for, but I didn’t feel it built up that way.  Not to say that scene wasn’t sad, wasn’t moving, but I felt that the emotion wasn’t exactly right.   Ah.  I think I know what I expected!!  I expected to see a surpressed cry burst out to max but that cry would subside immediately with Jackie running out of that room.  I think that’s what I think was the right emotion.  Jackie gave a longer cry than what I had in mind and that onset wasn’t a burst out cry.  I think that’s what the issue was.  Water plain.  I think. 

I think Jackie tried hard.  It’s difficult and courageous to leave your comfort zone.  It’s not easy to act not a bit non-funny given he has done that for the part 20 years.  I’ll give him credit for that.  It would be interesting to hear Derek’s comment on Jackie’s acting.

Marketing wise, this combination definitely worked successfully.  But first time only.  Give me another Derek + Jackie movie?  I probably will still fall for it, because of Derek, but I probably won’t be so lenient to Jackie next time.  😉

One last thing.  I usually don’t write bad or negative things.  I don’t want my stupid opinion to harm anyone.  So I usually only write positive things.  But my hubby said, you should write bad things too, so they can improve. 

So if I don’t give you a perfect score, it’s because I sincerely want you to improve.  Fighting!

Add a comment July 24, 2009

Modern Boy 모던 보이 (2008) – Korean Movie

I watched this movie during a flight to Asia.  I was happy this was featured as one of the World Cinema films and was even happier I watched it. 

Since I watched this movie a while ago so what I am going to write in the following may not be 100% accurate in details.

Modern Boy is a Korean movie released in 2008.  The story was set in 1937 when Korea was occupied by Japan.  Directed and written by Jeong Ji-woo, the 3 leading cast included Park Hae-il as Lee Hae-myeong, Kim Hye-soo as Jo Lan-sil (aka Laura), Kim Nam-gil as Sinseuke.

The movie started off with a bright and playful tone where Lee Hae-myeong was portrayed as a modern dude.  Lee was a civil servant at Gyeongseong (which is Seoul).  He technically worked for the Japanese government which had Korea annexed since 1910 then.  (I find the reason why he chose to work for the Japanese government interesting and important.  I’ll let you find out yourself.)  The young Lee in his early 20’s (I think) was truly a nice playboy of the era.  He drove an automobile, he chased and fooled around with modern girls, he entertained at bars and night clubs, he was fluent in Japanese and befriended with a Japanese police, he wore custom-made suits and hats, and his shoes had his names on them.  He was a financially well-off, care-free boy. 

Later in the film, we’re shown that Lee’s administration office compound was fenced and guarded.  What seemed glamourous on the surface had an undercurrent – the underground anti-colonization movement was heated.  Some Koreans wanted to end the forced occupation by Japan.  They were planning something radical and major.  The identity of a prominant leader, who’s also the implied lover of Laura whom Lee acquainted in a night theatre as a hot dancer and fell in love with madly remained mysterious.  Very few had seen the leader.  Everyone, including Lee and his friend Sinseuke, wanted to find out more about this leader for their own reasons.

This is basically a love story wth a patriotism overtone.  There were some touching scenes, some sweet scenes, some chilly scenes.  It gave you some surprises, some anger, some tears, some suspenses and some smiles.  It covered the nature of reality and projected reality, truth and perceived truth.  It examined different aspects of love and sacriface.  What comes first – your job, your status, your money, your friend, your family, your love, your country, your life?   Just how and how many times can you break a man’s heart and unbreak it?  It actually reminded me of the prophet Hosea and his wife, and that extended to me and God.  Where is your heart?

This movie won’t give you major excitment, but for me, never a boring minute and a lasting reminiscence.  And it’s also refreshing to see a Korean theme not related to gangsters (man, Korean fight scenes are really well done – they have a way).  🙂  If you come across this movie, Modern Boy, give it a chance, and let me know what you think of it.  And click here for its trailer.    😉

p.s. the Japanese colonization of Korea ended in 1945 along with the end of WWII when Japan was defeated.  The annexation treaty was declared “null and void” by both Korea and Japan in 1965.

2 comments March 22, 2009

Changeling (2008) – American Movie

Over the weekend, hubby and I rented this DVD – Changeling (2008), an American drama with background set in 1928 based on a true story of a mother, Christine Collins and her lost and supposedly found 9-year old son, Walter.

I couldn’t have done a better job describing the cast, plot, and other technical aspects of this film than this wiki article, so please check it out if you don’t know what this movie is about – spolier alert – this page tells you everything about the movie.

Pardon my English as I didn’t know what “changeling” meant, and I didn’t find out what this m0vie was about before watching this movie (as I trust my hubby that he only rented movies worth renting).  So I was receiving this movie first hand – unpoluted nor biased by previous comments.

Now that I know what changeling means, I think this is a good name for the movie.

A few wows. 

I admire Christine Collins – her courage, her resillience, her love of her son, her gentleness, her intelligence, her guts – compared to nowadays, she is no less independent, less capable  nor weaker than many single career moms – don’t you think?   This tiny woman didn’t give up.  <Spolier alert> I don’t know if she found Walter in her life (chances are not). I hope she had lived a happy life.  <Spoiler end> Walter, borned 1919, would be 90 years old if he’s alive, was one lucky guy with such a brave and loving mom.

I like the script, written by J. Michael Straczynski.  Many parts are very well written, like how the doctor explained about the “reverse growth” of the returned Walter; what Dexter told Collins in the psychopathic ward about no matter how she behaved, the doctor could always report her as sick; how the doctor twisted words of Collins that made her seemed like delusional etc.  Authority misused and unchecked for is scary.

Clint Eastwood is the director (and one of the producers).  He’s known to not yelling “Action!” on the set.  He let his acting crew eased in a scene.  The straight-forward story-telling style fits this movie of a true story nicely.   Nothing fancy is the best way to tell this story.   And I found out at the credits that he wrote the movie’s music, and I think they fit the story nicely.  He doesn’t write charming melodies but his music fits the movie.  And Hubby said he wrote music for many of his movies too.  What a talented guy!  Angelina’s comment on Clint goes like, (regarding her next movies, she’s telling her agent that)  “if Clint is not the director, there may be some problems, and I mean real problems…” something like that – check out the Making documentary yourself!   🙂

The skates are halirous – too bad the documentary didn’t explain how the stakes are clipped onto the heels.  Love to watch how the ladies moved in dress suits and high heels.

Now some question marks.

Not that Malkovich’s acting has flaws or anything in that nature,  somehow I kept thinking if his character (the Revenard) was on to something, like his expressions in the beginning of the movie when he first talked to Collins about how corrupt the L.A. police force was, led me to think he had some hidden agenda.  But no, the movie didn’t show any of such, so may be I misread his expressions.

The only place that I am not sure if it’s “over-acting” was when the Police Chief went to tell Collins that they found her boy – remember the expressions before he told her the news?  That scared the woman half death!   Normally a good news bearer wouldn’t be like this.  Was that straight face appropriate?  Did the Police Chief want to test how volunarable Collins was then?  Did he want to create a hype?  If so, then I can understand this straight face.  Otherwise, I am not sure.  This is not a actor’s question but a Clint’s question, and I don’t know what was his intention in this sequence.  If Clint you are reading my blog, please let me know?  😉

If you are in the middle of an uphill battle, I think this film may help. First, it is a good movie.  It takes your mind off your trouble for about 2 to 3 hours.  Second, someone fought some difficult battles about 90 years ago and many are fighting theirs today, so you are not alone!

Add a comment March 17, 2009

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