Sunday, 26 December 2010
Winner of the prestigious Grand Jury Prize and the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, Debra Granik's WINTER'S BONE has quickly become one of the critics' darlings among the film festival circuits. On the outlook, WINTER'S BONE looks almost identical like the Coen brothers' award-winning FARGO (1995). Just like Coen brothers' authentic look of their hometown Minnesota, Granik portrays the rarely-filmed Ozark Mountains by successfully capturing a rural community filled with addicts, liars, lowlifes and innocents caught in a web of poverty and deception. Raw and unsentimental in its portrayal, it is no doubt that Granik creates a indie motion picture worthy all the special mention. But at the same time, the movie is also somewhat overrated. All the authenticity aside, the movie proves to be painfully slow-moving for its own good and there are times it's questionable that WINTER'S BONE is hardly qualifies as one of the best movies of the year.
When the project was announced that a semi-biographical movie about Facebook is greenlighted, I was pretty skeptical at first. But given the fact that the movie, entitled as THE SOCIAL NETWORK, the unique combination of talents involving screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (1992's A FEW GOOD MEN and TV's The West Wing) and visionary director David Fincher, my interest is quickly justified. And how is it exactly THE SOCIAL NETWORK fares? Let's just say, if this movie has its own Facebook page, you click "Like", "Share" and finally leaves a good comment about it -- because THE SOCIAL NETWORK is hands-down one of the best movies of the year.
Dark theme grows progressively darker at each installment, and this is evident for this seventh and first-half of the final chapter of HARRY POTTER series, entitled HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 1. Once again, director David Yates took the helm after impressed critics and viewers alike with his two critically-acclaimed HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX (2007) and HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE (2009) with his measured character-driven storytelling and astonishing visual flair. However, in this chapter, David Yates took the biggest challenge yet -- by helming two-parters that the producers insisted not to squeeze the heavy material of the book into one movie. Such bold move is certainly a huge risk especially for an epic movie that have to end with cliffhanger hanging somewhere in the middle, and Warner Bros could have opted to condense the book into one movie instead. After all, isn't what HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX have been successfully done in the first place?
Up until now, all of the recent summer 2010 movies failed to live up their original expectations (e.g. IRON MAN 2). Excluding amongst the most satisfying summer movie of the year which is TOY STORY 3, the other one here is Christopher Nolan's eagerly-awaited INCEPTION. Just like his groundbreaking comic-book epic extravaganza, THE DARK KNIGHT (2008), his follow-up here serves him another breakthrough as a cinematic triumph of popcorn fun and brainy thriller.
An unlikely sequel that is wholly unnecessary. Back in 1987, Oliver Stone's WALL STREET defined the era of its time which also included Michael Douglas' Oscar-winning memorable role as the oily Gordon Gecko and his phenomenally popular catchphrase, "Greed... is good". In this sequel entitled WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS, Oliver Stone made his first-ever sequel in his directing career and it's almost sounds like a distinctive comeback for this once-maverick filmmaker after a continuously losing streak of poorly-received efforts (2004's ALEXANDER, 2006's WORLD TRADE CENTER, and 2008's W). While the movie is slickly-made and released in timely manner to capitalize on our current economic downturn, it's sad to say that Oliver Stone we once knew has gone too soft for his good.
When the original TRON (1982) first released in the theaters back then, it was a box-office flop. But critics has heavily regarded that TRON was a groundbreaking sci-fi movie in term of its visual medium, though it's very dated by today's standard. Still by the late 1990s, TRON has slowly prove its cinematic worth and ultimately gained its cult status thanks to healthy video market and favorable word-of-mouth. Then came the time where Disney decides to plan a sequel known as TRON: Killer App, but the proposed movie never materialized. Much of the concept ended up instead into a video game called TRON 2.0 (2003), in hope that it will re-ignite public interest for a possible theatrical sequel. Unfortunately the video game approach failed as well and the underperformed sales has again prevented a movie to be greenlighted. Everything is laying low until the infamous test footage of a de-aged Jeff Bridges debuted at the San Diego Comic-Con in 2008 has somehow re-ignite interest among sizable audiences that a movie sequel is workable after all. Twenty-eight years has passed since the original TRON, and Disney has definitely took a huge gamble ($300 million including massive marketing campaign) for a long-awaited sequel that is seemingly looked very promising, judging by its endless stream of advertisement and trailers. The good news is, TRON: LEGACY is every bit as technically dazzling as the original version and the filmmakers behind this movie has definitely worked very hard to achieve spectacular and eye-catching visual feast that is no doubt a top-notch quality. Too bad that is just about it -- all the large sum of money that is heavily spent on making the epic production beautiful to look at but the movie fails miserably in term of its story and characters.
Saturday, 25 December 2010
Billed by some as a companion piece to the 2003's minimalism breakthrough LOST IN TRANSLATION, Sofia Coppola's fourth feature, SOMEWHERE, sees her returning to her familiar filmmaking root that made her famous in the first place after the mixed reception over her colorful period-piece of 2006's MARIE ANTOINETTE.
Dig this out: a movie that set entirely in a coffin. It's as simple as that, and it wouldn't be a surprise if there's (most) people out there end up thinking it's impossible to make a movie with this kind of setting. But Spanish director Rodrigo Cortes's Hollywood debut, BURIED, manages to defy all the odds and comes up one of the most startlingly inventive little thrillers ever made in recent memory.
Released in theaters with little fanfare that flies under most people's radar, AND SOON THE DARKNESS is nothing more than just another low-budget little thriller that is all about cliched formula. Despite being headlined by recognizable talents by the likes of Amber Heard, Odette Yustman and Karl Urban, this Hollywood remake (which is actually lifted from the 1970's little-known British thriller of the same name) is painfully routine.
Sunday, 19 December 2010
When comes to explicit material as proven in such controversial movies by the likes of HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH (2001) and SHORTBUS (2006), director John Cameron Mitchell is certainly no strangers to that. However, his third feature comes as a huge surprise -- a complete departure of his usual genre norm by tackling a somber adaptation of David Lindsay-Abaire's play RABBIT HOLE. There is nothing explicit or particularly controversial of any manner surrounding his new movie here which is a very odd choice of direction for John Cameron Mitchell but he's quick to prove that he's a versatile filmmaker after all. It is reported that John Cameron Mitchell first came attracted by the script that reflected his own personal experience when he was a 14-year-old kid. Back then, he lost his 10-year-old brother to a heart problem. And his experience in the past has clearly shows genuine subtlety in this movie here.
Boring is the right word to describe entirely for a supposedly ambitious movie called THE TOURIST. It does sounds impossible because on paper, THE TOURIST seems to be a shoo-in for box-office favorites -- a classy genre movie in the vein of a lighter Alfred Hitchcock romp (e.g. TO CATCH A THIEF); two of among sexiest Hollywood A-listers (Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp) working for the first time together; and a caliber of behind-the-scene talents (director Florian Heckel von Donnersmarck of 2007's Oscar-winning THE LIVES OF OTHERS, and screenwriters Christopher McQuarrie and Julian Fellows). On the plus side, the movie is also shot lavishly on location in Venice with some gorgeous costumes as well. With a blessed budget as high as $100-million tag, what could have gone wrong? And that is exactly what Florian Heckel von Donnersmarck's first Hollywood big-budget feature has done -- by making the impossibly boring movie into something possible after all.
While vacationing in Bangkok, six Hong Kong travelers -- Rainie (Rainie Yang), Ling (Elanne Kwong), Ciwi (Ciwi Lam), Hei (Izz Hu), Rex (Rex Ho) and Lok (Shawn Yue) -- find themselves in the midst of political unrest and chaotic riot all over the street that they are unable to get past the airport to head home. Instead, they end up stranded in a rundown Chung Tai Hotel and forced to lay low for a time being until the riot subsides. Once there, they immediately sense something is not right with the hotel, beginning with the curious appearance of three kids and a little dog. More unexplained circumstances continue especially when Rainie sees a female ghost and Ling finds a hovering hand trying to grab her during the daylight riot outside the hotel. Then it gets worse from there -- Rainie's estranged boyfriend, Lok, in which both of them are suffering in the verge of break-up, is mysteriously disappeared and so the rest of the three men. With the aid of the little girl and her little dog named Little Huang which capable of seeing ghost, Rainie leads the girls to locate their disappearances around the hotel's underground passages and subsequently learn about the appearances of a female ghost (Jo Koo) and a strange dog-human mutant hybrid. Added to the mystery is the gimpy and grouchy hotel owner, Chuen (Lam Ka-Tung) who seemingly has to do with a series of strange occurrences.
Thursday, 9 December 2010
It's been five years since the undisputed master of horror, Wes Craven has directed a movie. His last feature was the 2005's RED EYE, a radical departure out of the norm but Craven does know how to spin a nail-biting suspenseful thriller. But die-hard fans will always appreciate his effort in tackling horror genre, which is why it's particularly a delight to see him make a much-awaited comeback in MY SOUL TO TAKE. Not only he returns to SCREAM-like teen slasher territory but this is also his first movie he has both written and directed since NEW NIGHTMARE (1994), which is quite frankly, that's really saying a lot. Unfortunately, it's an eye-popping surprise his long-awaited movie here is a confusing mess that is partly inspired but mostly dumbfounded.
Tuesday, 7 December 2010
With a title like FASTER, a kick-ass poster, and an equally captivating tagline that reads "Slow Justice is No Justice", you can almost bet that Dwayne Johnson's long-awaited return to an action-packed role after a short stint of Disney comedies and dramas, is his definitive comeback as well as something that action fans really like to look forward to. Well, at least the beginning of the set up delivers in a very promising manner -- a convict known only as Driver (Johnson) gets out of prison after ten years. Accompanied with a kick-ass theme song of "Good-bye My Friend" by Guido and Maurizio De Angeles (which is taken from a 70s Franco Nero's Italian crime movie called STREET LAW), he wastes no time by running across the freeway under the scorching heat before finally picking up a sweet-looking muscle car. Inside his car, he has a big revolver with big bullets, and a list of names of people he's going to kill. He drives off his car straight off to locate his first target. Once there, he walks into a building and puts a bullet hole in the head of an unsuspecting guy (Courtney Gaines) before leaving the scene. What a dramatic opening scene to begin with, but what follows next, is a surprisingly slow-burning plot that doesn't particularly justify the title at all.
At the first glance, THE WARRIOR'S WAY sounds like a fun movie not to be missed -- a comic-book like structure that mixes with classic samurai tale, spaghetti western, and a dash of Tod Browning's FREAKS (1932) thrown in for a mishmash of genre-benders. Topping that is the movie shot in hyper-stylized way like a live-action anime with a touch of 300-like filmmaking style to boot. No doubt an odd mix all over the place, but New York Film School professor-turned-writer/director Sngmoo Lee still deserves some applause for a wild hybrid in his debut movie here. Too bad THE WARRIOR'S WAY is surprisingly mundane with only a flick of entertaining moments simply not enough to call this as a guilty-pleasure fun.
Poor M. Night Shyamalan. Whatever he touches these days turned to box-office poison. His recent highly-anticipated big-budget summer movie extravaganza, THE LAST AIRBENDER, was heavily pounded by critics and viewers alike and the box-office return wasn't particularly impressive as well. And now, it's actually refreshing to see him returning to small-scale horror genre. What's even more a sigh of relief is Shyamalan's latest venture here sees him giving the directorial job to John Erick Dowdle (2008's QUARANTINE) while retaining as writer and producer of the movie.
Monday, 6 December 2010
Based on Chuck Hogan's novel Prince of Thieves, actor/director/co-writer Ben Affleck's highly-anticipated follow-up to his critically-acclaimed 2007's GONE BABY GONE is certainly worth recommending for -- an epic crime picture in the mould of HEAT (1995). Well, at least judging by its premise and the trailer. But THE TOWN is surprisingly unremarkable and there are only times the movie ignites its promise once in a while before they loses off the spark again.
Monday, 29 November 2010
On the surface, the trailers for director Paul Haggis' THE NEXT THREE DAYS looks like a thrill-a-minute, popcorn flick that offers nail-biting suspense and relentless excitement. But Paul Haggis's third feature here, following from his 2005's Oscar-winning racial drama CRASH and 2007's war drama IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH, is surprisingly a major step down for a highly-acclaimed filmmaker like him. Instead, THE NEXT THREE DAYS is a painfully slow-burning thriller that takes too much time in its melodramatic approach and scores pretty low in term of excitement normally expected for this kind of genre.
Sunday, 28 November 2010
Following from 2009's inferior remake of THE TAKING OF PELHAM 1 2 3, Tony Scott and Denzel Washington seems to continue their obsession over train-based action picture and this time the result is UNSTOPPABLE. You must be thinking a title like UNSTOPPABLE sounds like a pure popcorn fun best suited for summer movie release and the fact that the trailer looks comparatively like the 1994's genre-defining SPEED (where both movies shared almost the same identical premise, only with different setting and without a villain). Too bad what could have been a highly-entertaining, thrill-a-minute action movie turns out to be a painfully tedious ride and yet served another disappointment for both Tony Scott and Denzel Washington.
After 2008's ONG BAK 2 is ended abruptly with an unexpected cliffhanger finale, ONG BAK 3 immediately picks up where the previous movie left off. The vengeful warrior Tien (Tony Jaa) is now held captive by his nemesis, the evil Lord Rajasena (Saranyu Wonggrajang), and ends up being punished brutally with all manner of tortures. Tien's body and mind is totally worn out, he becomes helpless and is about to face execution but unexpectedly saved by a king's messenger demanding him to be released at once. Tien is brought back to the village of Kana Khone, where Master Bua (Nirut Sirichanya) and childhood love Pim (Primrata Dechudom) tries their very best to recover Tien's mass injury. Tien is subsequently healed and begins to learn how to mediate while deepening his martial art skills via karma energy (in this case, the power of nature) and traditional Thai dance. In the meantime, Lord Rajasena is frequently haunted by vivid nightmares that caused him delusional and apparently he finds himself being cursed. Only the sinister Crow Ghost (Dan Chupong) claims he can break the curse but Lord Rajasena refuses his help and wants him dead instead. It seems that the Crow Ghost attempts to seize control of the kingdom from Lord Rajasena and eagerly awaited the return of Tien to fight against each other.
WITH 2003's ONG BAK and 2005's TOM YUM GOONG under his belt, Thai martial art sensation Tony Jaa returns with the long-awaited and much-anticipated ONG BAK 2. Originally billed as Jaa's directorial debut, the film ends up being partially helmed by one of his mentors, veteran stunt coordinator Panna Rittikrai taking over his leftover duties after Jaa walked off the set and disappeared from the production altogether. Whether Jaa is stressed out and whatnot is anybody's guess, but the film manages to be completed and released with great fanfare in its native country. However, despite carrying a title of ONG BAK 2, the film bares no connection whatsoever to Jaa's groundbreaking debut, ONG BAK, but merely appeared as namesake only.
Friday, 19 November 2010
Dim-witted. No, make that beyond dim-witted. That's pretty much sum up for this awfully lame action comedy, COP OUT. It's also the movie where director Kevin Smith made his first major studio release that he didn't write the screenplay for, and he's truly embarrassed himself here. It's like as if he's totally sold off his soul for the sake of big fat paycheck (in which he himself claimed via Twitter that he took an 80-percent pay cut on this), simply made a crap and call it a day.
Thursday, 18 November 2010
Judging by the look of its trailer, SKYLINE appears like a big-budget alien-invasion extravaganza. But special-effects artists and brothers Colin and Greg Strause (2007's ALIEN VS. PREDATOR: REQUIEM) manage to self-finance their own movie here made independently for just $10 million. What's more, it's a movie that shot entirely on the new Red cameras with the Mysterium-X chip owned by the brothers themselves and it was almost entirely filmed at co-director Greg Strause's condo building in Marina Del Rey, CA. Frankly speaking, that is quite a remarkable achievement for a low-budget independent production. But it's rather a shame that the movie itself is a major disappointment in most departments.
Wednesday, 17 November 2010
Ever since his embarrassing fairy-tale effort of LADY IN THE WATER (2006), writer-director M. Night Shyamalan has never really recovered his career deficit. His next highly-anticipated movie, THE HAPPENING (2008) continues his downfall. And it's sad to say that his latest effort here, this time in the form of THE LAST AIRBENDER, cements his reputation as a box-office poison.
Consumer-level camcorders (Sony EX3), a tiny budget of an estimated $15,000 and a crew consisting of only two people -- those are pretty much sum up for Gareth Edwards's feature-film debut, MONSTERS. For a genre movie about alien invasion, the movie is unbelievably stunning and as technically accomplished as those big studio productions that cost $100-million-plus.
Sunday, 14 November 2010
Told in a non-linear fashion, the movie opens with a disclaimer showing statistics on the cost of buying a home in Hong Kong. It points out that since 1997, Hong Kong income has increased 1% while the cost of housing went up a whopping 15% in 2007 alone. Apartments as tiny as 600 square feet can fetch up to $300,000, and more for those with an ocean view. That is exactly what Sheung (Josie Ho) have been desperately wanting, as she's been saving money very hard to own one unit at the prestigious, high-rise housing estate of No. 1 Victoria Bay. We begin with her killing spree, where her first victim being an unsuspecting security guard (Wong Ching) at the area. Then the movie jumps back and forth at a different time frame, showcasing fragmented look of Sheung's struggling life way back when she's just a kid. During her childhood past, little Sheung (Vivian Leung) used to live in a rundown public housing and watching as the government and property developers take the homes of adjoining neighbours. After she grows up, she vows to buy a unit at No. 1 Victoria Bay as her future home. But the reality is, she can't actually afford to live there. Even his fellow colleagues told her the same thing as well. Sheung's double-shift jobs (telemarketing and retail sales) are all earned with minimum wages. Her lousy affair with a married man, Siu To (Eason Chan) is nothing more meaningful than just a sex companion and he's a heartless being who won't lend her money to help with an operation for her sick father (Norman Tsui). Back at the killing spree, we see Sheung continues to kill more victims at the No. 1 Victoria Bay -- including a pregnant woman (Michelle Ye), her husband (Sinn Lap Man) and a Filipino maid (Dewi Ariyanti) before proceeds to the noisy upstairs neighbors, Cheung Jai (Derek Tsang) and On Jai (Lawrence Chou) as well as two mainland prostitutes (Song Xiao Cheng and Zhou Chu Chu). Obviously, there is something that drives her so mad to commit such bloodbath.
Saturday, 13 November 2010
From the look of the trailer and of course, the promotional poster itself, KILLERS is obviously an attempt to ape the success of action-romantic-comedy genre in the vein of TRUE LIES (1994) and MR. AND MRS. SMITH (2005). The good news is, this movie has its few charming moments with equally likable couples (Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl) and some rousing action sequences. The bad news is, it's hardly as successful as two aforementioned movies and also sad to say that KILLERS is just too lightweight to raise above its mediocrity.
Saturday, 6 November 2010
Believe it or not, despite all the low-point and haphazard entry of SAW IV (2007), which happened to be the weakest series yet, manages to make enough money to warrant not one, but two further installments reportedly to be shot back-to-back! With SAW III (2006) already running out of fume and SAW IV only make things obviously worst, it is inevitable that the never-ending SAW franchise continues to be the "dead-on-arrival" for the fifth installment.
Okay, so both the notorious killer Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) and his equally sinister apprentice, Amanda (Shawnee Smith) are dead for good and everything is pretty much wrapped up in last year's SAW III. I mean, really, there's nothing left to tell the story to move the hugely profitable franchise forward but SAW III became a huge hit for the third time in the row and the filmmakers can't resist not to put the series to rest once and for all. That's right, the SAW franchise has now officially becomes the same old horror-movie franchise that won't stop coming into theaters until, at least, the series goes straight to DVD market. And it's a huge pity, because not surprisingly, SAW IV has easily turns out as the worst entry thus far (reportedly the filmmakers wanted to make the fifth and sixth installment back-to-back) and anyone expecting the same grisly torture-porn fun and mind-boggling twists will be sorely disappointed. The creative juice is entirely dry out right here.
The first two SAW installment, released back-to-back within a year gap in 2004 and 2005, the filmmakers has finally made a smart move to close the chapter once and for all in SAW III before it started to get stale. Too bad though, that those studio executives in Lions Gate officially announced that a fourth installment will be on the way next year, should this $10 million budget film opens very well in the box-office. I mean, really, how far can one go in the creative process? Unfortunately, SAW III fails to rise above the material previously introduced so well in SAW before improving well in a better sequel. All the gruesome exercise in nihilism and in-your-face gore are intact, and while SAW II director Darren Lynn Bousman has somehow brilliantly transcended the previous two's premise centered mostly on police procedural subplots and a group of survivors stuck in twisted game of survival, in favor for character-driven approach, is a taut move, the film is surprisingly more preachy than it supposed to be.
Monday, 1 November 2010
One would easily figured that in a typical of horror film franchise, once the original works out its ingenious formula very well, all filmmakers need to do is to duplicate the same thing again, making them bigger and gorier that they guaranteed a sequel will cash in easy box-office draw -- but as you know, most of them tends to fall apart. Which is why it's almost led me to believe that SAW II would probably falls to the similar victim. For one thing, the sequel is rushed into production way too fast because the original indie-hit SAW was only released exactly a year ago. But surprisingly, SAW II is a kind of rare sequel that manages to improve upon its successful predecessor and takes the wicked formula into a whole new game of twisted macabre of life-and-death situations.
One dirty bathroom, two men, a dead body and a filthy toilet. What an intriguing premise to start off something out of ordinary. For bone-chilling effect, this Halloween weekend doesn't any frightening than watching SAW, an impressive debut for both Australian director James Wan and his fellow screenwriter Leigh Whannell.
Sunday, 24 October 2010
Shawn Yue is Gene, a successful writer who recently publishes a highly-popular novel called "The Deserted Village". It's a horror-romance story about a village in the form of a remote mansion which has been cursed for the past 500 years and haunted by the jilted widow Rouge (Shi Liuyi). According to the legend, Rouge was once set herself into the fire with her husband after he is burned to death by some superstitious villagers. Although Gene keeps insisting his novel is a work of pure fiction, four college students -- Fanny (Liu Shuhan), Rain (Qin Zihan), Timmy (Dai Xu) and John (Li Zefeng) -- begs to differ and they plan to uncover the truth themselves. Nevertheless, bad things happen to them once they set their foot in the haunted mansion. True to the legend, they are punished with a deadly curse for infidelity against each other. In the meantime, Gene is constantly harassed by someone claiming to be Rouge via online chat and apparently upset over the way he writes the story. But soon the person harassing Gene turns out to be his ex-girlfriend, Gigi (Kitty Zhang) who just wants to freak him out because she's a descendant of the people who own the particular village. When Gene and Gigi start to find out four college students are meeting their inevitable doom, they decide to visit the village in hope to find the answer with the help of Gene's paranormal scientist, Tru (Yue Xiaojun). Apparently, Tru claims there is a strong electromagnetic field in the village, and whoever interacting with it able to cause a person to experience delusional illness.
Saturday, 23 October 2010
The movie follows four different young women and their experiences of compensated dating (where they get paid to date and mostly end up having sex with their client). Among them are Icy (Michelle Wai), who used to delve into compensated dating but now settled as an agent so she can support and spend more time with her online-game boyfriend (Derek Tsang); Ronnie (Bonnie Xian) is a bored rich girl who gets to know Icy via online chat room agrees to join the trade except that she does them differently -- by sleeping with selected men she prefers and actually pays her clients instead; Lin (Una Lin) who works at the hair salon does it mostly for the money, while enjoying the trade as well (in which she rates every guy she's slept with in her little notebook) and subsequently falling for one of her regular clients (Eric Tse); and finally there's Gucci (Venus Wong), a 16-year-old high school student who is willing to sell her virginity to the highest bidder so she can pay for her expensive limited edition Gucci handbag. Despite their varied reasons getting themselves in such trade, the four become good friends and frequently hanging out together, while facing difficult and sometimes threatening situation connected by the compensated dating lifestyle.
Tuesday, 19 October 2010
Sunday, 17 October 2010
For almost a decade, the once-maverick director Tsui Hark has increasingly lost his creative touch he once known for, especially back in his heydays of '80s and '90s. His so-called "comeback" movies ranging from 2001's THE LEGEND OF ZU, to 2005's SEVEN SWORDS and most recently 2008's MISSING and ALL ABOUT WOMEN were all heavily anticipated but fell short of target. Frankly, his last best movie was 2000's TIME AND TIDE, and his directing effort has never been recovered ever since.
Monday, 20 September 2010
In TWILIGHT (2008), Catherine Hardwicke's revisionist take of a love story between human and vampire is actually credible for its teen-angst undertones. Although the movie is weighed down by its overall corny execution, TWILIGHT remains decent enough. But not so for this much-anticipated follow-up, THE TWILIGHT SAGA: NEW MOON, in which director Chris Weitz replaced Hardwicke (who had to back out due to scheduling conflicts), is shockingly dull in almost every department.
Based on the insanely popular young adult novel by Stephenie Meyer, TWILIGHT (which is the first one in a four-part series) is essentially an age-old love story in the vein of Romeo and Juliet-style dressed in a modern vampire genre, geared for the particular demographic under 17-year-old. Stories like that is nothing new at all, and TWILIGHT is no exception but somehow director Catherine Hardwicke, who took this unlikely task, understands the rabid madness behind the success of TWILIGHT and successfully crafted a little picture that definitely hit the heart, as in Meyer's novel, of the under 17-year-old demographic especially the female audiences.
Saturday, 21 August 2010
The story centres on Sunny (Aaron Kwok), a circus clown who dreams of being a famous knife thrower ala "king of flying dagger" like his father. But nobody has ever taken him seriously, and he's often a subject of bully by his fellow circus performer, Tai Chu (Collin Chou), who is a highly-popular "king of the flying dagger". During a treasure hunting trip in Malaysia, Sunny, Tai Chu and the rest of his gang (Zhang Bao Wen, Tie Nan) accidentally released a biochemical toxic that gradually mutates them into super ugly beings. Sunny, in turn, becomes mutated into a grotesquely fat person and subsequently finds himself drifting away back to Hong Kong. He is fortunate enough to encounter a kind girl who is willing to give him a lift back home. The kind girl turns out to be his favourite idol named Angel (Shu Qi), a highly-rated beauty of CSS news anchor. Meanwhile, the highly-mutated Tai Chu and the rest of his gang are now terrorising the street of Hong Kong and embark on a series of crime sprees, thanks to their newly-gained superpowers. Enter Mainland supercops Sun Hao (Wu Jing) and his soon-wife-to-be, Hua (Zhang Jingchu), who are both specially assigned to deal with the super criminals. Sun Hao has promised to Hua that he will marry her once their assignment is done. On the other side, Sunny finds himself transforming back into his original slimmer self but also gains unexpected superpowers as well, including sharp vision and quick reflexes. He becomes an instant media sensation when he helps to rectify the hostage situation in the police headquarters. Thanks to Angel who becomes his agent, he is subsequently enjoying a taste of fame and success via commercial and such. When Tai Chu finds out about Sunny's existence, he is determined to avenge him for causing his brother's death and wants his blood as an antidote.
Tuesday, 17 August 2010
Believe it or not, SALT was originally intended to have a male lead in which Tom Cruise was approached to play the title character. Unfortunately, he declined the offer and the script was subsequently rewritten with a female lead instead. On the bright side, the movie is a typical summer action extravaganza that is pure formula and little innovation. Blessed with a fast-paced script and an intoxicating lead by action-ready Angelina Jolie, SALT looks destined to be a surefire winner as the best action picture this lackluster summer where movies like THE A-TEAM and KNIGHT AND DAY has previously failed.
Producer Jerry Bruckheimer has done the impossible before. And that was PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, in which he and Walt Disney Pictures studio managed to turn that theme park attraction into an unlikely billion-dollar movie franchise. This time, he hopes the lightning will strike twice with THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE, which is inspired by a 10-minute animated sequence from 1940's FANTASIA. He enlisted director Jon Turteltaub and actor Nicolas Cage, in which both of them collaborated successfully before in 2004's NATIONAL TREASURE and 2007's NATIONAL TREASURE: BOOK OF SECRETS. No doubt it almost certain that this is a foolproof plan THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE is bound to be a phenomenal box-office hit-in-the-making. But sadly, the movie falls terribly flat as a cinematic failure that is both lazily-constructed and uninspired altogether.
Monday, 9 August 2010
Forget about the god-awful AVP: ALIEN VS. PREDATOR (2004) and its equally cheap-looking AVP: ALIENS VS. PREDATOR - REQUIEM (2007) -- both movies that turned the once-lucrative franchise into cinematic embarrassment. Thanks to maverick producer Robert Rodriguez and director Nimrod Antal, PREDATORS is something of a real deal for die-hard fans have been waiting for -- a direct sequel to the 1987 original that cleverly ignored the event of 1990's PREDATOR 2 and two aforementioned spin-offs
Wednesday, 4 August 2010
After the Hong Kong government has implemented an indoor smoking ban in 2007, people are forced to carry on their smoking routine somewhere in the back alleyways. They are all come from all walk of professions, from office executive to hotel bellboys and pizza deliveryman. These smoking group (Cheung Tat-Ming, Miu Fei Lam, Vincent Kok, and among others) spends time sharing crude jokes, horror stories and some gossip. Among them all, are these particular two people, Cherie (Miriam Yeung), a beauty product salesgirl and Jimmy, an advertising executive four years her junior. After they start exchanging each others' contact number and e-mail addresses, they slowly find themselves in a whirlwind of romance.
Sunday, 25 July 2010
When comes to erotic thriller, Atom Egoyan isn't particularly among the favorable candidates spring into mind. In fact, his movies are always cerebral and clinical, regardless what kind of genre he was given to be accomplished of. Movies that touches on the explicit issue of sex, love, obsession and nudity are actually nothing new for Egoyan in which he has previously helmed genre of such in 1994's EXOTICA and 2005's WHERE THE TRUTH LIES. In his latest movie here, his Americanized reinvisioning of 2003's French-language NATHALIE (which re-titled as CHLOE) is an exciting erotic thriller blessed with provocative themes of insecurities, sex and obsession and coupled with a line of top-flight casts. It's also a sleekly-mounted picture so lurid and beautiful you just can't simply take your eyes off the screen. Those are just part of the glossy style that plays so well on its surface that it's quite sad that same cannot be said for the overall of this movie. CHLOE is the kind of movie that could have been better, but Atom Egoyan and Erin Cressida Wilson's adapted screenplay manage only to reach a half-baked point and stays there.
Sunday, 18 July 2010
Once upon a time, a Hollywood summer movie tentpole would not be complete without delivering an event picture that featured a pair or a couple of A-list superstars. There are also the time when a superstar alone can open a movie. But by today's standard and the increasingly picky and sophisticated audiences, such gimmick is no longer a trend whatsoever. Which is why, it's a refreshing delight to see the once-trendy gimmick made a comeback in KNIGHT AND DAY, which paired two major movie stars Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz. Not only that, the movie has all the right ingredients of a potential summer hit as well -- spectacular action, gorgeous locations and a crowd-pleasing genre of action-comedy-romance hybrid thrown into the mix. Well, that is at least for the first half of the movie before everything is bogged down with overlong expositions and terribly hackneyed (not to mention equally lazy) payoff.
At the first glance, JONAH HEX looks like something of a unique comic-book movie. Based on the cult DC comics of the same name, the movie's mix of old-fashioned fashion with additional supernatural twist is no doubt puts a fascinating spin on the genre. But too bad the movie is a train wreck from minute one. Heck, JONAH HEX was one of the most troubled productions ever seen in recent memory. Extreme writing team of Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, of CRANK fame, are originally slated to direct the movie but retained their screenwriting credits and chose to left the production due to "creative differences". Since then, the movie has underwent to several last-minute reshoots, with some tinkering by I AM LEGEND director Francis Lawrence. No doubt it's a bloated mess of epic proportions that what's left is a movie so bland and terribly uninspired it's very embarrassing to witness this as one of the worst comic-book adaptations ever made.
Loy (Jacky Cheung) is a forty-something underachiever who spends most of his time slacking around and likes to sleep a lot. He still lives with his widowed mother (Paw Hee-Ching) and helps run the family's air-conditioner business. His mother has increasingly fed up of watching him fooling around and desperately wants him to get married as soon as possible. And so she sets up a date with Oi Lin (Tang Wei), who helps her uncle selling toilets and bathroom appliances down the Hennessy Road. But the problem is, both of them doesn't exactly want to meet each other. On the other hand, Oi Lin already has a boyfriend, Xu (Andy On) who is about to be released from prison. Adding the complication is Loy's ex-girlfriend, Mina Siu (Maggie Cheung Ho-Yee) who reappears in his life and somewhat misses their moment being together. On the other side of the story, Loy's mother is facing a problem of her own when she learns her sister (Mimi Chu) is somewhat falling for Uncle Ching (Danny Lee).
The movie tells the story of a young Ip Man (played by real-life kung-fu champ Dennis To), who is trained by his master Chan Wah-Shun (Sammo Hung, in a cameo appearance) ever since he was a kid before his eventual death. Ip Man continues to learn Wing Chun from his senior, Ng Chung-Sok (Yuen Biao) who is now Chan Wah-Shun's immediate replacement. Ip Man is then leaving Foshan to study in Hong Kong's St. Stephen's College. While playing in a hockey tournament, he is subsequently bullied and humiliated by foreigners, in which they love to look down Chinese people like him. He steps up for a challenge against one of the cocky foreigners and beats him down in a matter of minutes. He is gradually earned respect from a small community in Hong Kong. But it is not until he meets a medicine practitioner named Leung Bik (real-life Wing Chun master, Ip Chun) who is actually the son of Leung Jan, Chan Wah-Shun's teacher. Apparently, both Leung Bik and Chan Wah-Shun are rivals back then because both of them adapt a different style of Wing Chun. In an ensuing short duel between Ip Man and Leung Bik in the medical hall, Ip Man soon learns that there is a more adaptable style of Wing Chun than he ever imagined. Four years later, Ip Man returns to Foshan in which he is subsequently falling in love with Cheung Wing-Shing (Huang Yi), the daughter of the vice-mayor Cheung Ho-Tin (Lam Suet). Her father is particularly disliked of Cheung Wing-Shing hanging out with a fighter like Ip Man whom he thinks they have no future together. Added to the complication is Ip Man's fellow disciple, Lee Mei-Wai (Rose Chan) who also happened to hold a secret crush on him ever since they were kids. That's not all, Ip Man's stepbrother, Ip Tin-Chi (Fan Siu-Wong) loves Lee Mei-Wai and apparently he's a Japanese spy-in-disguise.
Mann (Simon Yam) is a veteran cop who once a top marksman but now has fallen on tough times since the death of his wife at the hands of the triads. He is currently leading a small team, consisting of Spring (Vincent Wong) and tough-guy fighter Rocky (Xing Yu) in which they are assigned to investigate a kidnapping case of a notorious triad member Tang Qing (Parkman Wong). Aided by their new superintendent Koo (Fala Chen), they soon learn that the mastermind behind the kidnapping involved an ex-cop named Sam (Michael Miu). Apparently, he holds ransom against Tang Qing has something to do with his dark past. To make things complicated, Sam has also suffered a dilemma between two girls of his love: his current partner-in-crime, Can (Qu Ying) and his ex, Eva (Liu Yang). Added to the complication is Ice (Kenny Wong), a triad boss who is later revealed for responsible of causing Sam's brother died in a hit-and-run accident.
Sunday, 11 July 2010
At the first glance, a remake of the original THE KARATE KID (1984) is wholly unnecessary but you can't blame of Hollywood for lacking of fresh ideas nowadays. But surprisingly, this 2010 remake manages to hold on its own. Not only that, it's also a decidedly faithful remake with a few minor differences aside (the teen characters have now reduced to preteens and the setting has been changed from California to Beijing). The rest is more of the same: a formulaic underdog story that director Harald Zwart and screenwriter Christopher Murphy and Robert Mark Kamen follows closely to the genre convention without bringing anything new to the table. The result is thankfully decent enough, except that the movie is unbelievably overlong (which is clocking at 140 minutes!).