April 2010 | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Review: DEAD SNOW (2009)



RATING 3.5/5

In Hollywood, zombie genre had been milked dry and not even the master, George A. Romero himself, can save the day, judging from his lackluster back-to-back directing efforts in 2005's LAND OF THE DEAD and 2008's DIARY OF THE DEAD. But not so for an unexpected foreign country like Norway, which manages to keep this done-to-death genre with a refreshing tweak. How refreshing can it be? Well, check this out: a killer premise centers on a troop of Nazi zombies in a snowy mountain! And how come Hollywood never thought of that before? No doubt the basic premise itself for DEAD SNOW sounds exciting enough to keep horror fans in check.

Review: FULL THROTTLE 烈火戰車 (1995)

Review: FULL THROTTLE 烈火戰車 (1995)

Joe (Andy Lau) is a maverick motorcycle street racer who dedicated all his life to this sport so religiously, that he has regularly taken part in illegal racing all over the streets of Hong Kong. Joe is particularly fond of high speed and the sheer thrill of riding a motorcycle feels like a total heaven to him. One night he meets a younger racer (David Wu of MTV Asia), and the two later become friends. However, certain boundaries have subsequently jeopardised their ongoing friendship -- Wu is a professional racer being sponsored by Joe's estranged father, Paul (Paul Chun Pui) and Joe feels  excluded and upset at the same time, considering he's determining to prove that he's the best of the motorcycle racing. But then something awful happens to him during a motorcycle night race where he loses control of his bike and injured pretty badly. Joe's decent girlfriend, Yee (Gigi Leung) has been long wanted him to stop motorcycle racing because she couldn't stand living in fear that she always have to pray for his safety concerns. The accident does reflect Joe's perspective to re-evaluate his life and he promises Yee that he'll never race again. However, Joe's racing close friend, Kar-Lok (Chin Kar-Lok) can't stand watching him not getting involved anymore. Of course, it's a matter of time before Joe realises that he couldn't just quit motorcycle racing. 

Review: C'EST LA VIE MON CHERI 新不了情 (1993)

Review: C'EST LA VIE MON CHERI 新不了情 (1993)

C'EST LA VIE MON CHERI begins with a depressed jazz saxophonist Kit (Lau Ching-Wan) who is recently breaking up with his longtime singer girlfriend, Tracy (Carina Lau) and moves out to a quieter residential area of Hong Kong where he rents a flat. Among the residents, is a family of music performers including a perky girl named Min (Anita Yuen) who is particularly so interested with Kit's composed music every night that she begins to hum as well. She later meets Kit and unexpectedly become friends, though Kit at first finds her rather annoying. Every night Kit will be accompanied Min to a night market where her family is performing requested songs for mostly older audiences. Min's childhood dream is always wanted to become a singer and sell records but her strict mum (Petrina Fung Bo-Bo), who is a former singer herself, refuses her to do so since Min needs to be helping for her family at all time. As Min and Kit gradually grow closer to each other, Kit's once depressing life is finally brimming with a positive outlook. Thanks to Min's help, he is able to pull his life together and manages to let go of his sour relationship with Tracy and starts fresh. But as their love grows stronger, tragedy strikes when Min suffers from her leukaemia again and everything seems to be falling apart. 

Review: BEAST STALKER 証人 (2008)

Review: BEAST STALKER 証人 (2008)

BEAST STALKER begins promising enough with Sergeant Tong (Nicholas Tse), a no-nonsense and hot-tempered cop and his older partner, Sun (Liu Kai-Chi) engages in an intense car chase with a dangerous criminal Cheung Yat-Tung (Keung Ho-Man). However, Tong and Sun ends up in a spectacular POV, slow-motion crash involving four vehicles and multiple individuals taking place in the intersection. With Sun suffering from broken leg and trapped inside their overturned vehicle, the bloodied Tong who is all dazed still able to crawl out and stops Cheung's getaway by firing a couple of shots at their escaping vehicle. But little he does know that he has unexpectedly shot a young girl named Yee (Wong Sum-Yin) held inside the trunk, who later dies from the bullet wounds. Flash forward months later, we learn that Cheung is about to serve his sentence in prison for his part in an armed robbery that led to the getaway and the massive car crash. And the barrister happens to be Ann Gao (Zhang Jingchu), a divorced mother of twins, one of whom was Yee, who ended up dead in an accidental shot by Tong. During that particular months, Tong has spent his time befriended the other twin, Ling (Wong Suet-Yin) and is still racked with guilt over his responsibility of causing Yee's death. But in the event of Mother's day celebration in Ling's school, she ends up being kidnapped by Hung (Nick Cheung), who was hired by Cheung to extort Ann into destroying the crucial evidence (the blood sample) linked to his crime. Ann, in turn, afraid not to lose her remaining daughter, agrees not informing the police and agrees to do what Cheung wants her to do. However, Tong, who also happened to be there during the kidnapping scene, is determined to make sure that he will get Ling back into safety at all cost. 

Review: PROTEGE 門徒 (2007)

Review: PROTEGE 門徒 (2007)

For seven long years, Nick (Daniel Wu) has gone undercover who managed Kwan's (Andy Lau) drug handlers but yet arresting him because he is unable to infiltrate Kwan's entire heroin operation and doesn't even know where the drugs come from, or where they are made. However, Kwan's health is declining these days especially when he's suffered from diabetes. He's looking forward to retirement and wanted Nick to become his successor because he's totally believing in him. Soon Kwan shows him all the tricks and trades, starting from the laboratory how the drugs are packaged and delivered and right down to its main source in the Golden Triangle, as well as introducing some of his loyal big clients. Such steps have enabled Nick to come so close to put out Kwan and his operation once and for all but Nick starts to hesitate to do so because he's unable to betray Kwan who trusted him very much. And that's part of Nick's problem. At home where Nick lives in a rundown apartment, he meets Fan (Zhang Jingchu) and her little daughter across the building in which they are suffered from hunger. Soon Nick helps them providing food and money. As their relationship grows closer, he learns that Fan has been long struggling with heroin addiction and desperately wanted to quit but unable to do so, especially when her loathsome husband (Louis Koo), also a drug addict comes back to mess up her life. 

Review: MURDERER 殺人犯 (2009)

Review: MURDERER 殺人犯 (2009)

A vicious killer is out there somewhere bleeding innocent people to death with a power drill, and the latest victim is a cop named Tai (Chen Kuan-Tai), who's been drained of blood and tossed from the seventh floor of an apartment complex. Fingers are immediately pointed to number one suspect, Ling (Aaron Kwok), a respected officer found at the crime scene with no memory of why he was even there. With Tai lying in a coma, Ling must piece together the mystery. Unfortunately, all the evidence points back to himself as being the killer. And there lie several questions: Is he actually a serial killer before he loses his memory? Or is he being framed by someone? 

Review: LIFELINE 十萬火急 (1997)

Review: LIFELINE 十萬火急 (1997)

Of all the fire station in Hong Kong, the Chi Wan team, headed by the no-nonsense veteran firefighter, Yau Sui (Lau Ching-Wan), is branded as a notoriously unlucky and "jinx" squad of lifesavers. Their "jinx" gets even worse after their current superior is seriously injured during a supposedly simple rescue in a falling construction lift and ends up with half of his body entirely paralysed. Then along comes their new superior, a notoriously by-the-book Cheung Man Kit (Alex Fong Chung-Sun) who particularly dislikes his disorganised team. At the first part of the film, we learn about this group of close-knit firefighters going through their usual ordeal of rescuing jobs as well as their personal lives. That includes Yau Sui, who is subsequently falling in love with a pathetic doctor named Annie Chan (Carmen Lee Yeuk-Tung) after rescuing her from an attempted suicide jump. Then there's the only female firefighter in the team named Sunny (Ruby Wong Cheuk-Ling), who has a marital problem with his frustrating husband demands her to have sex without using a condom because he wants them to have a baby. But Sunny doesn't want to fulfil his wish yet since her line of profession requires a lot of sacrifices and full commitment. Cheung Man Kit, in the meantime, is frustrated that his ex-wife demands him to take over their English-speaking daughter since she is going to remarry soon.

Review: INVITATION ONLY 絕命派對 (2009)


RATING: 1/5

HAILED as "Taiwan's first slasher film", it should have been saying a lot for INVITATION ONLY. Unfortunately rookie director Kevin Ko's directorial debut is nothing more extraordinary than being one of those listless and increasingly tedious "torture porn" sub-genre in which he borrows heavily from HOSTEL (2006). 

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Review: X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE (2009)


RATING: 2.5/5

Back in summer 2006, X-MEN: THE LAST STAND has shocked and disappointed (every) fans and audiences alike by abruptly killing off some of the important main characters in a row -- e.g. James Marsden's Cyclops and Patrick Stewart's Professor X -- but the film managed to make decent money in the box-office. 


Review: TERMINATOR SALVATION (2009)


RATING: 3/5

When Halcyon Company greenlit a new, proposed TERMINATOR trilogy a year ago, I was pretty much skeptical how the franchise is going to work out especially since Arnold Schwarzenegger has no longer involved leading the cast as the iconic T-800 character whatsoever. With Schwarzenegger already quit showbiz and concentrating on politic running as Governor of California, the TERMINATOR franchise (at least at the fanboys' perspective) looks might as well -- dead


Review: DRAG ME TO HELL (2009)


RATING: 4/5

Here's a very important question: When was the last time a horror film that manage to scare the hell out of you but at the same time also draw some worthy dosage of cheeky laughter as well?


Review: TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN (2009)


RATING: 2/5

The first TRANSFORMERS (2007) was a gargantuan hit, grossing at a whopping $319 million in the domestic box-office alone while reaping an even bigger money of $706 million worldwide. And shortly after the film won Best Movie at 2007 MTV Movie Awards, an inevitable sequel is quickly gets underway. The good news is, the second installment, TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN delivers the kind of summer popcorn-fueled extravaganza people has come to expect in the first place. But this heavily-anticipated sequel also reeked of a rotten egg: Michael Bay's "bigger and louder" filmmaking motto takes the whole "so bad, it's good" category into whole new level. Just imagine all the previous flaws surfaced in the first film are now doubled up in a spectacularly annoying epic proportion. 


Review: THE HURT LOCKER (2009)


RATING: 2.5/5

After scoring low with back-to-back disappointments of K:19 - THE WIDOWMAKER and THE WEIGHT OF WATER (both released in 2002), Kathryn Bigelow's long-awaited return to the director's chair sees her back in a near top form. 


Review: PUBLIC ENEMIES (2009)


RATING: 3/5

No historical and cultural aspects of America's real-life crime saga will ever goes unnoticed without mentioning the famed bank robber John Dillinger, the most publicized figure during the rise of 1930s Depression-era whose appearance subsequently prompted the rise of the FBI. Ironically though, for all his mass popularity that Hollywood will definitely love to craft a great story out of him, there are only two previous features: both low-budget and largely unnoticed of 1945's Max Nosseck's and 1973's John Milius versions which both are titled as DILLINGER. 


Review: DISTRICT 9 (2009)


RATING: 4.5/5

When comes to sci-fi thriller, it's either the one that has to be star-studded or mega-budgeted blockbuster event filled with state-of-the-art special effects extravaganza to lure the audiences. But DISTRICT 9 is one of those genuine rarities that defies the opposite of a sci-fi thriller doesn't have to be both expensive (made at a modest $30 million) and also relying heavily on popular actors to carry a film. It's also a great, once-in-a-blue-moon film that is both original, inventive, compelling, captivating, frequently hilarious and refreshingly out of the norm you normally come to expect from a sci-fi genre. All in all, this is a huge little surprise you never seen it coming. 


Review: QUANTUM OF SOLACE (2008)


RATING: 2.5/5

2006's CASINO ROYALE has definitely sets the bar high enough for any filmmaker who is going to follow up afterwards. Naturally, anticipation is very high for QUANTUM OF SOLACE, a direct sequel which also the first time ever for a Bond movie. Not only that, this is also the first time a Bond movie is clocking in the shortest running time ever -- at a compact 105 minutes. This actually works to its certain advantage for those who always complain that Bond movie, especially all the recent outings, are overlong. The good news is, QUANTUM OF SOLACE continues the similar rough-on-the-edge, gritty tone of CASINO ROYALE-like vibe, which in turn, also a bad news as well -- the film delivers only half of its sheer brilliance in term of characters, plot and technical achievement. 


Review: CAPE FEAR (1991)


RATING: 4.5/5

Director Martin Scorcese's first foray into psychological thriller has only one word to describe: knockout


Review: AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (1981)


RATING: 3/5

No modern werewolf genre will ever be completed without mentioning writer-director John Landis's groundbreaking near-classic AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON. The film, of course, is well known for its trendsetting special effects wizardry by none others than makeup maestro Rick Baker as well as its inventive mix of horror and comedy. Pity that the film isn't much a full-blooded masterpiece because of its largely uneven result in the second-half. 


Review: ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA (1984)


RATING: 4/5


Like his companion masterpiece work of the western epic, ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST (1969), Italian director Sergio Leone's monumental gangster epic ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA is no doubt one of his finest works in his longtime distinguished directing career. 


Review: AN EDUCATION (2009)


RATING: 3/5

Coming-of-age films are nothing new, but in AN EDUCATION, Danish director Lone Scherfig and screenwriter Nick Hornby craft a wonderful genre film that is both realistic and poignant. That's not all, this is the film that will forever remembered as 24-year-old Carey Mulligan's breakthrough performance who is believable playing a 16-year-old girl so eager to enjoy life the way she always wanted. Her acting is both enchanting and mesmerizing she's definitely an up-and-coming actress to look for in the future. 


Review: THE MESSAGE 風聲 (2009)

3 stars

RATING: 3/5

Mixing old-school wartime spy thriller with distinctive Hollywood flavor and an exciting dash of Agatha Christie-whodunit style, it's certainly refreshing to see a Chinese period thriller like THE MESSAGE possesses an interesting facelift out of the usual expectation. As a cinematic viewpoint, the movie is no doubt an exhilarating ride filled with visual galore and blessed with well-calculated performances. 

Review: MAD DETECTIVE 神探 (2007)

Review: MAD DETECTIVE 神探 (2007)

At the beginning of the movie, we meet Bun (Lau Ching-Wan), an eccentric police inspector, unlike any others. His bizarre methods of solving every case are pretty much unconventional -- by putting himself into the shoes of the criminal. This is when the head of the Regional Crime Unit, Ho (Andy On Chi-Kit) witnesses Bun is solving two cases at once: stabbing a dead pig to simulate a bloody murder and zipping himself into a suitcase, and required Ho to shove him down the stairs to understand the inner workings of a recent murder. Bun is some sort of a cult legend in the police force but his career ends abruptly when everyone in the force witnesses him cutting off his own ear to hand over to his retiring superior officer (Eddy Ko) as a gift of sorts. A few years later, after Bun has been long kicked out of the force because of his disturbing behaviour and now Ho is seeking for his help again to solve the disappearance of a police officer named Wong Kwok-Chu (Lee Kwok-Lun), who has been missing for eighteen months. As Ho explains, Wong's partner, Ko Chi-Wai (Lam Ka-Tung) survives from a fateful night while they are in the pursuit of an Indian thief. To make things worst, Wong's gun has been stolen and now used in a series of armed robberies. With no other leads at all, Ko Chi-Wai is naturally the only prime suspect behind the complicated case. Bun agrees to help Ho out and they started to tail off Ko Chi-Wai. That is where Bun is surprised to see Ko Chi-Wai has seven multiple personalities, each played by different actors including Lau Kam-Ling who controls his emotion and justify his overall action; Lam Suet as his reflection of timid self and Eddie Cheung Siu-Fai as his reckless behaviour towards action. As the case progresses, Ho begins to doubt Bun's increasingly eccentric behaviour and even feels uncomfortable by his personal lifestyle, like how Bun communicates with his harried wife, May (Kelly Lin) who is actually an imaginary person vividly created by Bun himself.

Review: HARD-BOILED 辣手神探 (1992)

Review: HARD-BOILED 辣手神探 (1992)

Chow Yun-Fat is the no-nonsense Inspector Yuen who has a nickname called "Tequila" because he is just hot with guns. He's also the kind of righteous cop who doesn't mind breaking the law and make up his own justice as long as he thinks it's right. And that exactly turns out to be a  bloody mess when he and his partner (Bowie Lam) battle a gang of vicious gunrunners in a local teahouse bust. The shootout massacre resulted in his partner's death and Tequila wastes no time to empty his bullet to eliminate the bad guys. When his superior officer, Pang (Philip Chan) finds out about Tequila has already killed all the bad guys in the teahouse, especially one of them happened to be a key suspect, he is increasingly frustrated over Tequila's overly violent tactics on handling the job. Meanwhile, Tequila has attempted many ways to rekindle his shaky relationship with her fellow colleague, Madam Teresa (Teresa Mo), who has lately been receiving frequent gifts of white rose. Apparently, the flowers come with coded messages written in numerical form from an undercover gangland source that Teresa decipher and later passes on to Pang. The mysterious undercover happens to be a dedicated cop, Tony (Tony Leung Chiu-Wai), who disguised himself as a triad assassin in which Tequila has been investigating the death of a man shot point-blank in a library. Tony is working for the criminal kingpin, Mr Hoi (Kwan Hoi-San) who has been making the serious rivalry with the heartless evil leader, Johnny (Anthony Wong) who admires Tony's working style and really wants him to join along. It doesn't take long before Tony's double identity is eventually seen more into trouble when Tequila interrupts his long-time investigation to eliminate Johnny and his gang. 

Review: BODYGUARDS AND ASSASSINS 十月圍城 (2009)

Review: BODYGUARDS AND ASSASSINS 十月圍城 (2009)

BODYGUARDS AND ASSASSINS chronicles during the crucial days in Hong Kong's Central District circa 1906 where democratic activist Chen Xiao-Bai (Tony Leung Ka-Fai) receives a news that friend and revolutionary figure Sun Yat-Sen (Zhang Hanyu, in heavy make-up) will be visiting the country to meet with 13 other important activist leaders about overthrowing the Qing dynasty. Chen is aided by his friend Li Yue-Tang (Wang Xueqi), a successful businessman responsible for funding Chen's propaganda newspaper. However, Li is particularly worried about his beloved son, Chung-Guang (Wang Bo-Chieh) for joining Chen's revolutionary movement. With news already spread out about Sun's trip reaching Hong Kong within few days, the Qing court sends out its best assassin Xiao Guo (Hu Jun) to make sure the revolution leader will be executed before he reaches the meeting. Xiao Guo and his gang begin their mission by wiping a group of veteran soldiers, led by General Fang Tian (Simon Yam) who are originally hired to protect Sun, before proceeding to kidnap Chen. When Li starts to realise his friend goes missing, he decides to drop his indifference about the political agenda he chooses to ignore all this while and sets up to fulfil Chen's hope by continuing the mission. So he enlists a strong group of bodyguards to make sure Sun succeeds the meeting and gets out of Hong Kong alive. That group includes Tian's rebellious daughter Hung (pop star Li Yuchun), family rickshaw driver Ah Si (Nicholas Tse), street vendor/ex-Shaolin monk Stinky Tofu (NBA player Mengke Bateer), disgraced aristocrat-turned-beggar Prince Lau (Leon Lai) and policeman/compulsive gambler Chung-Yang (Donnie Yen), who was once a spy for the Chinese assassins. 

Review: FRENCH CONNECTION II (1975)


RATING: 3/5

Five years after the critically-acclaimed THE FRENCH CONNECTION (1971) made Gene Hackman a superstar as well as putting young director William Friedkin into one of the most Hollywood's most-wanted lists and not to forget it's a memorable winner of 5 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor, it's inevitable to see how the follow-up manages to top up the original tough crime drama in the first place. 



Review: THE FRENCH CONNECTION (1971)


RATING: 5/5

An exciting mix of street humor, intense police procedural and highly dramatic thrills, THE FRENCH CONNECTION is a landmark crime thriller by the young director William Friedkin. 



Review: THE CHASER 추격자 (2008)

Review: THE CHASER 추격자 (2008)

THE CHASER revolves around a former Task Force cop-turned-pimp Jung-Ho (Kim Yun-Seok), who is about to have a very bad day in his life. He is particularly frustrated about a number of his call girls have gone missing in recent weeks and he's been strapped for cash. So he calls in one of his girls, Min-Jin (Seo Yeong-Hie) and demands her to service regular client Young-Min (Ha Jung-Woo). Though Min-Jin confesses she is sick and unable to do her duty, she knows she has no choice but to obey anyway. Then later that same night, Min-Jin meets up Young-Min in a housing Mangwon district. On the other side, Jung-Ho begins to suspect that his missing girls may have been all related to Young-Min. At first, he figures Young-Min is most probably stealing his girls for business sake but little he knows that Young-Min is a whacked-out psycho after all. Unbeknownst to Min-Jin, she becomes the latest victim of sexual assault and violence by Young-Min, who takes pleasure on torturing women because he is happened to be impotent. But before Young-Min can finish the job, he gets distracted by a call from someone outside. In a series of coincidental and pitch-black events, Young-Min is somehow run into Jung-Ho in a car accident, which then quickly leads to a foot chase. Jung-Ho manages to catch up on Young-Min and beats him up for good until both of them get arrested. Once at the police station, Young-Min has surprisingly admitted to his gruesome crimes but even so, the lack of evidence obviously isn't enough to press charges against him. Now here lies the real drama: Jung-Min has a matter of few hours left to find the missing Min-Jin, with the help of his bumbling sidekick, Meathead (Koo Bon-Woong) before Young-Min will be eventually set free for no solid evidence.

Review: TIME 시간 (2006)


RATING: 4/5

How perfect is perfect? That's a hot debate addressing by South Korean maverick director Kim Ki-Duk's latest film who takes on a creepy outcome behind the nation's local obsession towards cosmetic surgery which has lately becoming all the rage. Not only the fascinating subject matter itself proves to be commercially-viable, it's a surprise that Kim Ki-Duk's TIME is also the director's most accessible work to date. 

Review: AUDITION オーディション (1999)


No stranger to many controversial movies, notorious director Takashi Miike who is famed for his outrageously violent gangster movies take a detour from the usual norm and embarks into horror genre territory. The result is AUDITION, an unnerving horror film that is full of surprises.

Review: MY GIRLFRIEND IS AN AGENT 7급 공무원 (2009)


RATING: 2.5/5

Korean's answer to MR. AND MRS. SMITH (2005) but in the fluffy and corny tone of a typical local flavor of over-the-top romantic comedy excesses. These winning ingredients, coupled with two good-looking popular actors, are more than enough to generate this into a strong box-office hit. So strong that this film, MY GIRLFRIEND IS AN AGENT, even outperform Park Chan-Wook's highly-anticipated THIRST (which both released in the same month of April) in its  total box-office grosses. 

Review: MOTHER 마더 (2009)


RATING: 3/5

After hitting jackpot with the blockbuster THE HOST (2006), which has ultimately became Korea's highest-grossing film ever made, writer-director Bong Joon-Ho returns to his familiar small-scale mystery territory that recalled his own 2003's breakthrough, MEMORIES OF MURDER.

Review: A FROZEN FLOWER 쌍화점 (2008)

RATING: 3/5

RIDING on the overwhelming success of 2005's THE KING AND THE CLOWN, a taboo-breaking period comedy that explores forbidden homosexual relations within the highest echelons of patriarchal society, the trend continues with the similar-themed A FROZEN FLOWER. Not surprisingly, the film was a huge hit in Korea and even set a new box-office record for an erotic genre. 

Review: KING KONG (2005)


RATING: 4.5/5


The Hollywood blockbuster movie of the year. No question about it, because Peter Jackson's long-awaited, big budget remake of KING KONG is a mammoth, grand entertainment you'll be spellbound watching this in the big screen. 


Review: BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN (2005)


RATING: 5/5

Hailed as Hollywood's first gay Western, director Ang Lee's epic tale of forbidden love between two men, which adapted from Annie Proulx's 1997 acclaimed New Yorker short story, is no doubt the most emotionally-penetrating motion picture I've ever seen in a long, long while. 



Review: SOPHIE'S REVENGE 非常完美 (2009)


RATING: 2/5


It's somewhat a rarity to see a China production that goes for a favor of a contemporary, modern Hollywood-style romantic comedy. SOPHIE'S REVENGE is one of them, and you could say that is at least something of a refreshing change of pace for the China cinema. But on the other hand, the film is purely formulaic stuff -- it's derivative, exceptionally lightweight and awfully predictable that audiences have seen this kind of film countless times before. Yup, it's basically nothing new here. 

Review: SPARROW 文雀 (2008)

Review: SPARROW 文雀 (2008)

Professional "sparrow" (a Hong Kong street slang for "pickpocket") Kei (Simon Yam) starts his regular morning routine, dressing up in sleek-looking suit and rides bicycle to have breakfast at a usual cafe along with his colleagues, Bo (Lam Ka-Tung), Sak (Law Wing-Cheong) and Mac (Kenneth Cheung). Kei tells them he stumbles upon a sparrow flying into his apartment and everyone quickly claim it's a bad sign about to come. But Kei doesn't believe such superstition. After breakfast, they start working by pickpocketing unsuspecting victims along the busy street of Hong Kong and at the end of the day, Kei divide the share to each of them. When not on the job, Kei spends his free time photographing people and places with his vintage Rolleiflex camera while riding a bicycle. Then one day he finds an interesting subject in the form of a beautiful woman named Chung Chun-Lei (Kelly Lin) who dresses in expensive clothes and seemingly on the run from someone. She appears again, and this time at the sight of Bo who is playing hard at a casino. They quickly getting acquaintance and drinks heavily together. But Bo is the one who falls drunk and realises his wristwatch already gone along with her. Soon Chung Chun-Lei appears the rest of two Kei's colleagues, Sak and Mac respectively in a chance encounter before vanishing again. After all four pickpockets getting himself beaten up by some well-dressed thugs, they realised they're being fooled around by Chung Chun-Lei. Soon they find out that Chung Chun-Lei is desperately wanted to seek a way out of her rich bully, Mr Fu (Lo Hoi-Pang) in hope to start a new life on her own.

Review: SHINJUKU INCIDENT 新宿事件 (2009)

Review: SHINJUKU INCIDENT 新宿事件 (2009)

Set in the 1990s, the plot centres on Steelhead (Chan), a Chinese farmer who illegally travels to Japan in search of his childhood sweetheart Xiu Xiu (Xu Jinglei). After dodging some cops, he finally made it safe to live alongside friend Jie (Daniel Wu) and other Chinese immigrants, including Lao Gwei (Lam Suet) and Hongkie (Chin Kar-Lok), in a makeshift asylum in the red-light district of Shinjuku. Soon, Jie helps Steelhead navigating the place around, showing him some ropes and warns him not to mess with the local gangsters. They subsequently land in a number of odd jobs which pay them very little, only to be constantly busted down by a bunch of cops, lead by Inspector Kitano (Naoto Takenaka) during an illegal worker raid. In one bust, Steelhead has unexpectedly saved the life of Kitano. In return, Kitano helps him to escape the cops and offers further assistance if he ever needs it. He soon discovers Xiu Xiu has adopted a Japanese name, Yuko, who is now married to a rising Japanese gangster named Eguchi (Masaya Kato). Meanwhile, Jie crosses path with a Taiwanese gangster Gao (Jack Kao), resulting one of his hands get chopped off. On the other end, Steelhead meets a sweet-hearted bar hostess Lily (Fan Bingbing) and also saves Eguchi from the opposing gangster. Eguchi eventually grants him as a triad leader in Shinjuku to be looking after. Steelhead's goal is to encourage everyone to do decent business, only to discover nothing is as simple as black and white. 

Review: KUNG FU HUSTLE 功夫 (2004)

Review: KUNG FU HUSTLE 功夫 (2004)

Set in 1930s Shanghai, KUNG FU HUSTLE revolves Sing (Stephen Chow Sing-Chi), a loser whose biggest ambition is to join the infamous Axe Gang, lead by the notorious leader Brother Sum (Danny Chan). The Axe Gang is the most feared gang in the nation where they control everything from casinos, night clubs and restaurants. Which is why Sing adores the gang so much. So in order for Sing, together with his dimwitted tubby sidekick, Bone (Lam Tze-Chung) to get their credit for the Axe Gang to approve them  both, they make a stop at Pig Sty Alley, a low-cost housing compound owned by the cigarette-chomping Landlady (Yuen Qiu) and her sleazy husband, Landlord (Yuen Wah). Sing and Bone try to bluff all their way to cause some stir over those local slums by pretending as Axe Gang members. But little they do realise, the Pig Sty Alley happens to be a place where few retired kung fu masters resided here. It doesn't take long before all hell breaks loose when the real Axe Gang members arrive, wrecking havoc. And out come three kung fu masters, including the gay Tailor (Chiu Chi-Ling), the labourer Coolie (Xing Yu) and the baker Kuai (Dong Zhi Hua), in which each of them possessed different martial art styles. All three of them manage to take down a large score of Axe Gang members and totally leave Brother Sum shell-shocked. So Brother Sum's advisor (Tin Kai-Man) brings in two hired killers simply called as the Harpists (Gar Hong-Hay, Fung Hak-On) to wipe out Tailor, Coolie and Kuai, with their deadly Chinese harp. In the meantime, Sing and Bone keep trying to find a way to impress Brother Sum to join his gang. Along the way, of course, Sing stumbles back Fong (Huang Sheng-Yi), his mute love interest they have parted for a long time. Back in their childhood, she was once saved by Sing from a gang of bullies. Ever since then, she treated him as her hero. And now she grows up working as an ice-cream vendor. Then there's the Beast (Leung Siu-Lung), the "official" world's top killer who has been killed countless opponents in his past but none of them proved to be a worthy challenger. He is now in a mental asylum until Sing released him to deal with the Landlady and the Landlord. Unfortunately, not even a combination of the Landlady and the Landlord can bring down the Beast. Surprisingly enough, it turns out that Sing actually possesses valuable hidden kung fu skills inside him, waiting to be unleashed and he's apparently the one and only capable of defeating the Beast. 

Review: THE SNIPER 神鎗手 (2009)

Review: THE SNIPER 神鎗手 (2009)

THE SNIPER focuses on an elite team of Hong Kong's SDU Sniper Team, lead by sniping commander Hartman (Richie Jen). Enter O.J. (Edison Chen), a young, ambitious and hotheaded rookie who enters Hartman's team and wants to be the best of the best. But like any other self-confident and cocky newcomer, OJ is sometimes hard to control, especially with his bad-boy attitude all around. Then there's Hartman's former colleague and leader Lincoln (Mainland star Huang Xiaoming), a psychopathic top sniper who has served four years in prison for manslaughter after a mission gone awry. Once released from prison, his ultimate goal is nothing more than a vengeance in his mind. After purchasing a sniper rifle illegally, he proceeds to help out crime boss Tao (Jack Kao) escape from police custody and set to challenge against the law enforcers.

Review: SPL 殺破狼 (2005)

Review: SPL 殺破狼 (2005)

The Chinese literal title Sha Po Lang is actually refers to the three Chinese astrological symbols Qi Sha (killing), Po Jun (obliteration) and Tan Lang (avarice), which serves the purpose that involves two feuding cops, Inspector Ma Kwan (Donnie Yen) and Senior Inspector Chan Kwok Chung (Simon Yam) and their bad-guy nemesis Wong Po (Sammo Hung). The movie begins with a prologue in 1994, where Chan involves in a violent car crash that caused the life of a key criminal witness and his wife. The victimised couple's young daughter survived, and Chan now takes care of her. Unfortunately, the culprit behind the car crash, Wong Po gets away scot-free because Chan doesn't possess enough solid evidence to bring him down. Three years later in 1997, Wong Po is still looming large as a triad kingpin that he seems untouchable and now he's even has a baby son. Chan, in the meantime, still holds the grudge against Po after these years and determined to do anything in his power to stop him for good. But Chan's days are numbered, particularly he's been diagnosed with cancer and about to retire from the police force. Still, Chan's three loyal subordinates, Lok Kwun-Wah (Liu Kai-Chi), Kwok Tsz-Sum (Danny Summer) and Lee Wai Lok (Ken Chang) are willing to help him anywhere they can to nab Po and his gang. Then come Inspector Ma Kwan, a by-the-book cop who assigned to take over Chan's unit, realizes Chan and his men are about to go above the  on handling the case, but soon comes to realize he must set the working indifference aside and join forces to bring down Po and his gang once and for all. 

Review: PAINTED SKIN 畫皮 (2008)


RATING: 1/5


A major disappointment for what supposed to be one of Hong Kong's heavily-anticipated blockbuster events of the year, and a double whammy for poor Donnie Yen who has earlier appeared in a lame big-budget period action romance, AN EMPRESS AND THE WARRIORS. 

Review: LAUGHING GOR: TURNING POINT 之變節 (2009)

Review: LAUGHING GOR: TURNING POINT 之變節 (2009)

Set before the event of E.U., the story begins with Laughing (Michael Tse) was already working as an undercover cop under Inspector Xian (Yuen Biao), the only man in the police force who knows his true identity. Laughing has been long deep undercover to get close with glam-rocking triad boss Brother One (Anthony Wong), who was himself once an undercover cop who forced to become a triad after finding himself unable to return to police life. During a possible bust, Xian suffers from a car accident and falls into a coma, leaving Laughing with no backup at all. Soon he finds himself on the run from both the police, lead by Poon (Felix Wong) and other triad bosses, Zatoi (Francis Ng) and Big Brother Fook (Eric Tsang). As the film progresses, we are treated to a series of flashbacks where Laughing was first a lowly convenience store clerk being mentored by Brother One. He was then later enrolled into police force by Brother One so he will become a mole there. On the other side, we also learned that Laughing is dating Zatoi's sister Karen (TVB starlet Fala Chen).

Review: REBELLION 同門 (2009)

Review: REBELLION 同門 (2009)

Set during a course of one fateful night, Po (Shawn Yue), the glum-looking bodyguard working for triad boss Jimmy (Calvin Poon) has just taken a night off for his birthday, While he is extremely drunk in a bar, Jimmy gets shot up outside a gang hangout in a restaurant that same evening. With Jimmy's life is in critical condition and his influential wife Cheung Wah (Ada Choi) on her way back from Taiwan, temporary leadership takeover is needed to sustain the gang. Surprisingly, the leadership falls to Po, in which he is given a direct authorization from Cheung Wah. But Jimmy's number-two man Blackie (Chapman To) clearly disagrees with her decision to promote Po, especially given his drunken condition to lead anyone for now. Still, Po doesn't care about power, other than finding out who ordered the hit on Jimmy. He suspects one of the five gangs in the Southern district has something to do with the murder attempt against Jimmy. Soon, accompanying Po is restaurant employee Ling (Elanne Kong), who tags along because she likes Po a lot and wants to help him whenever she can. As the clock is ticking, Po is chasing all over Kowloon to track down Jimmy's assailant while constantly running into interference from the rest of the gang, including Coffee (Paul Wong), Sand (Jun Kung) and Jupiter (Conroy Chan).

Review: THE FIRST 7TH NIGHT 頭七 (2009)

Review: THE FIRST 7TH NIGHT 頭七 (2009)

A taxi driver who goes by the nickname of "Map King" (Lam Ka-Tung) because of his incredible knowledge to get wherever destination imaginable, is called upon to guide a cargo truck driver named Pony (Julian Cheung) to the mysterious Moon and Sun Village -- a place that only he knows how to get to. At first, he refuses to do so but after being promised an unimaginably sizable fee, it's simply an offer he can't ignore. And so their long journey through the night begins as they tail against each other on the road. They set off their CB radio so they can talk to each other. After a few brief conversations, it soon becomes clear that Pony's intention to go to that particular remote village is more than just a so-called "delivery" trip. Then Map King starts telling a ghost story that set in the Moon and Sun Village's distant past, the kind of bad memory which made him reluctant to go there at the first place. According to him, a widow named Fong (Michelle Ye), her chubby young son, and a group of armed bandit compromising of Boss (Fung Hark-On), Keung (Eddie Cheung Siu-Fai), Chicken (Tony Ho) and Bo (Xiao Hei) -- who turn up at her inn seeking refuge after a bloody robbery. Unfortunately for them, they've shown up at the wrong moment following from the "First 7th Night" after the passing of Fong's husband. That particular superstitious belief stated that the deceased will return during the fateful evening to settle affairs with their loved ones. Such creepy event nevertheless makes the bandits nervous and among the most freaked out of all is Keung, especially after he went sexually harassing against Fong. Because of his indiscretion, the four bandits ultimately meet their dooms. Despite the truth, Pony refuses to believe Map King's story and insists it's rather exaggerated. So he goes on to tell his so-called true version of the story to Map King.

Review: IP MAN 葉問 (2008)

Review: IP MAN 葉問 (2008)

Based on the real-life martial art master, Ip Man, who pioneered the Wing Chun, the movie focuses on the height of his popularity circa the 1930s in Fo Shan, China. Ip Man (Donnie Yen) is a rich martial art master who is very respected among the locals as well as every martial artist in the territory. Unlike the town of Fo Shan which is mostly lined with different martial arts school, Ip Man is such a modest individual that he refuses to take on any students. He has a beautiful wife, Zhang Yong Cheng (Lynn Hung), and a son, Ip Chun (Li Ze). Throughout the first half of the movie, we learn about Ip Man being challenged by Master Liao (Chen Zhi Hui), only to be embarrassed later until he becomes a subject of gossip by Shao Dan Yuan (Wong You-Nam), a kid brother to Master Zealot Lin (Xing Yu), in which Lin is also under Master Liao's teaching. Then there's the arrival of a band of outsiders, lead by a cocky kung fu master, Master Jin (Fan Siu-Wong) who comes all the way from the north to start his own martial arts school. But his first mission is to defeat every other competitor in the town, in which he succeed so easily. Of course, when he encounters Ip Man, he loses for good. Then comes the era of the Japanese occupation where people in Fo Shan suffered greatly. The former policeman, Li Zhao (Lam Ka-Tung) is now branded as "traitor" as he worked as a translator for General Miura (Hiroyuki Ikeuchi), who wants to test the Chinese with his Japanese martial arts. Ip Man and his family are now reduced on forcing to move into smaller space. He manages to find a job as a construction worker and gets to fill his empty stomach with potato. When Li and the rest of the Japanese soldiers arrive to announce about the benefit of getting a sack of rice if anybody can beat Miura's team of Japanese martial art students. Among them who agree is Master Zealot Lin. And when Ip Man finds out that Master Zealot Lin died from the deadly beating of Miura during a bloody fight, he wants to seek justice. Eventually, Miura is so impressed with Ip Man's Wing Chun skills when he manages to take 10 of his students single-handedly that he asks him to teach Chinese martial arts to his soldiers. Of course, Ip Man doesn't agree to do so, and well, you know the rest.

Review: THE TREASURE HUNTER 刺陵 (2009)


RATING: 1/5


Another Chu Yen-Ping, Jay Chou and Eric Tsang collaboration. Another instant recipe for disaster. And that is certainly rings true for them. Two years after the awful KUNG FU DUNK (2007), their latest venture, THE TREASURE HUNTER, is a poor man's rip-off of INDIANA JONES and THE MUMMY. Of course no doubt Jackie Chan's highly-popular action adventures ARMOUR OF GOD (1986) and OPERATION CONDOR (1991) are hundred times better. Even a forgettable fluff like Jet Li's DR. WAI IN "THE SCRIPTURE WITH NO WORDS" (1996) is at least enjoyable than this crappy effort. Go figure. 

Review: THE STORM WARRIORS 風雲2 (2009)

Review: THE STORM WARRIORS 風雲2 (2009)

THE STORM WARRIORS opens with Cloud (Aaron Kwok) and Chu Chu (Tang Yun, replacing Shu Qi) being held captive by the evil Lord Godless (Simon Yam). Among others that have been captured as well is Nameless (Kenny Ho), Cloud and Wind's new master. Apparently, Lord Godless and his son Heart (Nicholas Tse) plans to conquer all of the China and prove their influence over all martial artists. Luckily Wind (Ekin Cheng) arrives just in time to help them escape after a brief fight against Lord Godless and lay low for a while. As Nameless is nursing his injury after using a bulk of his power in an attempt to stop Lord Godless, he tells Cloud and Wing that only Lord Wicked (Wong Tak-Bun) has the power to defeat Lord Godless. And so Cloud, Wind and Chu Chu with the help of Piggy King (Lam Suet) journey to the cave to meet Lord Wicked. At first, Lord Wicked refuses to help them until the arrival of his niece, Second Dream (Charlene Choi) changes his mind. He warns Cloud and Wind that gaining special power in such notice is very risky and whoever wants the power needs to undergo "the evil way". He has experienced it before but the power is so overwhelming he once couldn't control himself and forced to cut off his own arms to avoid becoming totally consumed. Despite the warning, Cloud and Wind don't mind about the possible risk since they are so determined to save China at all cost. However, Lord Wicked only granted one of them to turn over his "evil power", and the particular warrior is Wind since Cloud proves to be too temperamental for the process. As Wind undergoes a long process to gain the power, Cloud is granted part of Nameless's power in which he later developing his own sword stance. In the meantime, Lord Godless and Heart has captured the Emperor (Patrick Tam) and the royal family while threatening them about the Dragon Bone's whereabouts. The Dragon Bone proves to be so important for Lord Godless and Heart since it is a powerful relic for whoever get their hands on it.

Review: OVERHEARD 竊聽風雲 (2009)

Review: OVERHEARD 竊聽風雲 (2009)


OVERHEARD centres on Johnny (Lau Ching-Wan), Gene (Louis Koo) and Max (Daniel Wu), three cops who are all best friends, working for the CCB (Commercial Crime Bureau). They are part of a special team assigned to spy on business firm E&T, owned by Will Ma (Michael Wong) who is suspected for illegal stock fixing and other crime factors. They conduct their investigation by sneaking into the office building during the night, placing hidden cameras and microphones so they can eavesdrop on E&T execs across the building. Night after night, they observe against a sleazy executive Mr Low (Waise Lee) who spends time flirting with his secretary-cum-mistress (Queenie Chu). When they get bored, Gene and Max find time to amuse themselves by tapping into their fellow cops, Mary (Sharon Luk) and Joe's (William Chan) cell phones to find out about their hidden relationships. Then one night, Gene and Max overheard Mr Low tipping off his secretary on stock-rigging secrets. Realising that this is a golden opportunity to make a quick buck, they don't hesitate to invest their hard-earned savings, even though they know such move is an unlawful conduct to do so. Still, they have their own personal reasons to do so -- Gene's son is suffering from cancer, while he himself has a terminal illness that he will die in a year's time. He also hopes to leave his family with enough money after he's gone. As for Max, he is about to marry his wealthy girlfriend, Jenny (Grace Huang) and he really needs a lot of money to do so, especially his father-in-law David (Henry Fong) often looks down at him for being a mere cop with low salary income. Except for Johnny, who won't lay his hand for the illegal wrongdoings no matter what. However, he is eventually forced to cover the track of his fellow friends as he can't afford to report against them. Johnny still has his own agenda -- he is dating Mandy (Zhang Jingchu), the estranged wife of his cop buddy Kelvin (Alex Fong Chung-Sun).


Review: OLDBOY 올드보이 (2003)


RATING: 5/5

WINNER of 3 Blue Dragon Film Awards in its native South Korea including Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Director as well as earning a top honor by nabbing the prestigious Grand Prix in 2004 Cannes Film Festival, Park Chan-Wook's second "revenge trilogy" venture following after his 2002's moody SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE, is far edgier, grittier and broader in tone all wrapped up in a bizarre revenge fable unlike anything you've seen before.