2011 | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Saturday, 31 December 2011

Review: SLEEPWALKER 夢遊 (2011)

Review: SLEEPWALKER 夢遊 (2011)

Angelica Lee stars as Yi, a lonely woman who runs a garment factory in her own apartment. She's been living a mundane life and frequently haunted by a repeated dream over the years -- a weird dream in which she finds herself stranded in a wasteland and a corpse is buried somewhere underneath. Not only that, she is also a sleepwalker who often wakes up from terrible dreams that she can't remember how come her hands ends up being dirty, her belongings misplaced or her footprints appeared on the bedroom floor. However, it isn't just her terrible dreams and sleepwalking issue that plagued her ongoing life. Her ex-husband Ming (Kenny Wong) has gone missing, and Yi is the main suspect since she is the last person Ming has met on the night of his subsequent disappearance. Sergeant Au (Huo Siyan) suspects something is not right with Yi, especially after she has caught her wandering around at night in her nightgown. That's not all, Au's cousin Peggy (Charlie Young), who has recently paid the ransom for her kidnapped son, is reportedly missing as well. Could these two separate missing cases are somehow connected? As the movie goes on, Yi agrees to cooperate with Sergeant Au to recall her dreams through a series of hypnotism, which subsequently reveals something that Yi has never suspect all this while.

Review: HUGO (2011)


RATING: 3/5

Mention the name of Martin Scorsese, he's a legendary filmmaker who is best known for directing gangster movies as well as anything that is related to violence and dark characters (e.g. MEAN STREET, TAXI DRIVER, GOODFELLAS, CASINO, THE DEPARTED). But a children's fantasy adventure? It's really hard to believe when I first heard Scorsese was going to adapt Brian Selznick's award-winning children's book The Invention of Hugo Cabret into a movie. But before you write off his first attempt to tackle such genre, let me assured you that HUGO isn't a colossal mistake he is making here. Instead the movie is somewhat heartwarming and at the same time it's perfectly understandable why Scorsese is so peculiar for tackling his first children's fantasy adventure at the first place -- Selznick's book happens to celebrate the wonders of cinema's early days -- a subject that Scorsese loves very much. In fact HUGO has been widely praised by critics as one of the finest movies Scorsese ever directed. As much as I wanted to believe so, I found the universal praise for this movie is an overstatement. HUGO is hardly a masterpiece that one might expect, but still good enough to make this movie worthwhile.

Friday, 30 December 2011

Review: THE TREE OF LIFE (2011)


RATING: 3/5

With just four movies stretching in almost 40 years of his directing career, reclusive director Terrence Malick's highly-anticipated and long-awaited fifth feature, THE TREE OF LIFE, had recently awarded the coveted Palme d' Or at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. It was a surprise anyway, considering most viewers has booing off the movie during the screening premiere. Not only that, THE TREE OF LIFE has also been compared to Stanley Kubrick's sci-fi masterpiece, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968). No doubt that from the outlook of the movie, Malick has made a daring and extraordinary approach to explore the wonders of life, the mysteries of death, and the creation of the universe in the utmost spiritual and philosophical point-of-view. The result is a visually elegant, avant-garde drama that is both mystifying and fascinating piece of cinematic experience. However it's hardly the kind of so-called overwhelming masterpiece many critics has been praising all over for this movie. More on that later.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

TOP 10 BEST MOVIE POSTERS OF 2011!




When comes to marketing a movie, poster plays one of the most important parts for attracting a viewer. After all, first impression always counts, right? So here we go -- my personal pick for "Top 10 Best Movie Posters of 2011!" right below.


Wednesday, 28 December 2011

TOP 10 WORST MOVIES OF 2011!




Four days more, it will be the end of 2011. Before we usher for 2012 with more new movies ahead, here's my (rotten) pick for "Top 10 Worst Movies of 2011!".



Sunday, 25 December 2011

Review: SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS (2011)


RATING: 2.5/5

When SHERLOCK HOLMES (2009) ends with a highly-promising note that hinted a greater thing will come, I'm sure a lot of die-hard fans (especially for the movie version, of course) and viewers alike, are anticipating the arrival of Professor James Moriarty in the much-anticipated sequel SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS. After all, Moriarty is Holmes' No.1 most accomplished adversary he's ever faced in his detective career. Unfortunately, the sequel fails to capitalize the potential suffers mostly from unnecessarily bloated yet pedestrian script.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Retrospective: Top 10 Best (Unconventional) Christmas Movies




It's Christmas Eve! And no Christmas would ever be complete without watching a couple of Christmas movies, right? After all, it's a part of everyone's family tradition during this joyful season and among the common picks are those unforgettable classics including IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946), MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (1947), contemporary classics like HOME ALONE (1990) and THE SANTA CLAUSE (1994) and recent ones like this year's ARTHUR CHRISTMAS. But for those who wants to break away from watching the same old traditional Christmas movies, why not watch something different? Here's my pick for "Top 10 Best (Unconventional) Christmas Movies" below:


Saturday, 17 December 2011

Review: MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - GHOST PROTOCOL (2011)


RATING: 4/5

Despite the fact that most fans and critics have hailed J.J. Abrams' MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III (2006) as the best series to date, the movie itself was surprisingly underperformed at the box-office, managing only a disappointing $133.3 million over a hefty $150 million budget. Ever since then, the future of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE franchise was sagging while the star power of once-invincible Tom Cruise was waning just as fast. Six years later, the franchise has finally been given a second chance and the result is MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - GHOST PROTOCOL. This time around, the fourth installment is helmed by Pixar's animation ace Brad Bird, who was responsible for some of the studio's biggest hits including THE INCREDIBLES (2004) and RATATOUILLE (2007), debuted his first live-action movie ever. It's an inspiring choice but at the same time, it's also a big gamble for choosing a director whose background mainly on animation. Well, for those skeptical viewers, rest assured that Brad Bird's keen eyes for visual flair makes him a terrific choice after all. As one of the biggest Hollywood blockbusters during this holiday season, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - GHOST PROTOCOL is one hell of a spectacular entertainment.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Review: THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN PART 1 (2011)


RATING: 2/5

To date, the first three TWILIGHT series has made an astounding $1.8 billion at the worldwide box-office. In the U.S. alone, each installment are consistently growing in term of box-office numbers (2008's TWILIGHT - $192.7 million, 2009's THE TWILIGHT SAGA: NEW MOON - $296.6 million, and 2010's THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE - $300.5 million). So finally, here we are now -- the final installment of the TWILIGHT series, BREAKING DAWN, which has every die-hard fans around the world anticipating the movie like a Second Coming (okay, maybe that's an overstatement). This time, it's kind of fascinating to see that the studio (Summit) has wisely opted critically-acclaimed director Bill Condon, who made two Oscar-winning movies, GODS AND MONSTERS (1998) and DREAMGIRLS (2008), as well as an Oscar-nominated movie, KINSEY (2004). With the fair exception of Catherine Hardwicke-directed TWILIGHT, the previous two installments (NEW MOON and ECLIPSE) which were separately directed by Chris Weitz and David Slade, were tone-deaf and shockingly dull motion picture. Which is why, Condon's involvement in this lucrative franchise at least raised some hopes in term of its overall movie quality. Unfortunately this movie is (yet) another critical disappointment that should have deserved better, given the reputation of an Oscar-caliber director like Bill Condon.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Review: PUSS IN BOOTS (2011)


RATING: 3/5

Last year, Dreamworks' most lucrative animated series, SHREK has finally milked dry with SHREK FOREVER AFTER. However, the franchise doesn't just stop there. So it's easy to see that the studio decides to feature one of the franchise's most popular characters, which is none others than PUSS IN BOOTS. The result is a charming and entertaining adventure that explores the origins of the swashbuckling feline.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Review: TOWER HEIST (2011)


RATING: 2/5

Here's an interesting trivia about TOWER HEIST: the all-star caper comedy began development as an "African American OCEAN'S ELEVEN" originally titled as TRUMP HEIST. It was as early as 2005 when Eddie Murphy first pitched the concept to producer Brian Grazer and Brett Ratner, which will starred an all-black cast of comedians including Chris Tucker, Kevin Hart, Dave Chapelle, Tracy Morgan and Martin Lawrence. The story would be about a group of disgruntled employees who plan to rob Donald Trump and Trump Tower.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Review: IMMORTALS (2011)


RATING: 1.5/5

Throughout a short but illustrious career, India-born director Tarsem Singh had only made two feature movies. One was the mind-bending thriller THE CELL (2000), and another one was the little-seen THE FALL (2006). His third feature, IMMORTALS, is certainly his most ambitious directing effort to date. Dubbed by the director himself as CARAVAGGIO (1986) meets FIGHT CLUB (1999), IMMORTALS does looks like a promising effort which mixes Greek mythology and Renaissance art shot in a hyper-stylized, 300-style. Well, at least on the outlook of how the promotional trailers have been aggressively advertised all this while. However, despite all the fantastical elements, Tarsem Singh's sword-and-sandals action extravaganza is hardly the action-packed vibe one might come expect for this kind of genre. Instead it's a disappointingly gloomy picture (both figuratively and literally) that is too heavy-handed and awfully slow-moving.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Review: THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN (2011)


RATING: 3/5

History of making Herge's much-beloved comic strip, THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN has certainly comes a long way since the big-screen adaptation was first proposed way back in 1983. Back then, when Steven Spielberg bought the rights, he was originally intended to make a live-action version. He did turn over to Peter Jackson's Weta Digital for special effects. But being a huge Tintin fan himself, Jackson had instead convinced Spielberg to turn the movie fully animated since live-action version would fail to capture the essence of the elaborate world created by Herge. However, special effects technology wasn't that advanced to fulfill the complicated scope of the movie needed to be accomplished. So it wasn't surprising that the movie took a painstaking 28 years long to get it made. But the long wait was certainly worth all the time and effort because as a childhood Tintin fan myself, I'm happy to announce that Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson has fulfilled THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN into one of the most visually-spectacular animated motion pictures ever made in the history of Hollywood cinema. Not only that, Spielberg and Jackson has finally does a few notches better for its heavily-criticized motion capture animation into near perfection since Robert Zemeckis first pioneered the trend. It's certainly an effective crowd pleaser that harkens back the good old-fashioned action adventure Spielberg used to make during his heydays, except that THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN isn't as great as one might expect especially coming from two of Hollywood's most top-notch filmmakers of our time (Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson). Let's just say it isn't up to the par of, say, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK kind of level. Good though, but not great.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Review: IN TIME (2011)


RATING: 2/5

Over the span of two decades, New Zealand-born filmmaker Andrew Niccol had only made three movies (1997's GATTACA, 2002's S1m0ne, and 2005's LORD OF WAR) in his directing career, and also responsible of writing the screenplay for THE TRUMAN SHOW (1998). Still his short span of work are nothing short of technical brilliance and often inspired with fascinating ideas. No doubt Niccol is one of the most gifted visionary directors of our time. Six years after his long hiatus since LORD OF WAR, it's finally good to see him return to sci-fi genre once again. The result is IN TIME, a fascinating genre-bending thriller that blessed with a brilliant setup: A future where the wealthy ones live forever and the working-class ordinary citizens are struggle to survive within day by day in a ghetto "time zone". Instead of money, time becomes the currency as human being are only given 25 years of lifespan. Once that age have reached, they will be "shut" down like a machine.

Review: LIFE WITHOUT PRINCIPLE 奪命金 (2011)

Review: LIFE WITHOUT PRINCIPLE 奪命金 (2011)

LIFE WITHOUT PRINCIPLE begins with Inspector Cheung (Richie Jen) working on a murder case in a rundown housing block. It doesn't take long before he gets a call from his wife Connie (Myolie Wu) to view an apartment she's desperate to buy as an investment. However, Cheung isn't quite ready to fork out a large sum of money to buy such an apartment yet. Connie is disappointed, but she isn't given up just yet. So she goes to a bank where a bank officer named Teresa (Denise Ho) is handling the case, and discovers that the service fees, as well as the interest rates on her mortgage, is amazingly beyond her financial reach. Not even the combination of her husband's civil service discount can help her cause that much. In the meantime, Teresa suffers a serious problem of her own. Apparently, she is currently at the bottom of her sales team and struggling to find anyone to invest in the bank's high-risk fund. If she doesn't do anything to make the sales, she might be losing her job in no time. Then along came a client named Yuen (Lo Hoi-Pang), a loan shark who drops by to withdraw HK$10 million to lend to triad Panther (Lau Ching-Wan) and his associate Lung (Philip Keung), who has just lost a fortune of his big client's (Terence Yin) money on the stock market. But for some reasons, Yuen ends up leaving half the withdrawal behind in Teresa's office and leaves the bank. Teresa realises he has forgotten his handphone and leaves her desk to look for her client. She ends up in the parking garage, where she is surprised to find out that Yuen has been killed by someone. The money he had taken out earlier goes missing. As she is aware of Yuen's death, she realises there's another HK$5 million he had left in her office. On the other side of the story, Panther, a loyal triad member who works for his stingy boss (Tam Ping-Man) is desperately trying to collect a large sum of money from various people to bail out Brother Wah (Cheung Siu-Fai), who is arrested for multiple counts. That is where he ends up meeting Lung, who is subsequently turning over to Panther for financial help.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Retrospective: Top 10 Must-See Horror Movies During Halloween Night




Come 31 October (which is tomorrow, by the way!) will be none others than celebrating Halloween! Apart from dressing up in Halloween costumes and putting scary makeup, watching horror movies is another part of tradition to celebrate the particular season. So here are my "Top 10 Must-See Horror Movies During Halloween Night" that I have compiled right below:



Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Review: DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK (2011)


RATING: 1/5

In 2007, acclaimed filmmaker Guillermo del Toro has helped his protege and first-time director Juan Antonio Bayona crafted a spooky and richly-textured "haunted house" horror movie in THE ORPHANAGE. Four years later, del Toro attempts to replicate the successful formula again with another first-time director (Troy Nixey) in a remake of a 1973 made-for-television horror movie DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK. But this time, del Toro's second attempt in tackling "haunted house" horror genre is an awfully tired slog that is neither scary nor interesting in many levels.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Review: PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 (2011)


RATING: 3/5

With a combined gross of more than $190 million at the box-office, both PARANORMAL ACTIVITY (2007) and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 (2010) were no doubt one of the most successful low-budget horror movies ever made in recent memory. And like it or not, here's PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3. Yes, it's more of the same old "found footage" horror genre you've already seen before. But kudos goes to CATFISH directors duo Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman manage to showcase some effective jolts and even some inspired tinkering within its formulaic structure.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Review: SECTOR 7 7광구(2011)


RATING: 1.5/5

Heavily promoted as South Korea's first 3D IMAX blockbuster, the highly-anticipated SECTOR 7 has also been touted as the next "ultimate monster movie" since Bong Joon-Ho's groundbreaking hit, THE HOST (2006). In fact, from the look of the promotional trailer, SECTOR 7 looks promising enough as a fun-filled summer popcorn blockbuster. Actually I got a high hope for this one, but unfortunately SECTOR 7 is a jaw-dropping disappointment from many levels. Yeah, it is that bad, especially given all the high-profile talents involved in this big-budget production.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Review: TRESPASS (2011)


RATING: 1/5

Home invasion thriller is nothing new at all, but I always admire the sense of claustrophobia and nervous tension often associated in this kind of genre. Case in point: THE DESPERATE HOURS (1955) to PANIC ROOM (2002). But in Joel Schumacher's latest thriller called TRESPASS, it's more of a convoluted mess than anything else matters. How messy are they? Let's just say, not even a caliber of A-list talents by the likes of Nicolas Cage and Nicole Kidman can save this train wreck of a movie.

Review: REAL STEEL (2011)


RATING: 3/5

A genre mashup borrowed from TRANSFORMERS (2007), OVER THE TOP (1987) and ROCKY (1976) all rolled into one, Shawn Levy's first foray outside his usual comedy genre in REAL STEEL is a slickly-packaged Hollywood blockbuster that celebrates the good old-fashioned "feel good" factor you often seen in this kind of movies.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Review: NASI LEMAK 2.0 (2011)


RATING: 3.5/5

The name of Wee Meng Chee, or better known as Namewee, is no stranger to controversy. His so-called "insult" for rapping the national anthem Negaraku back in 2007 as well as criticizing TNB (Tenaga Nasional Berhad) in 2009, has made him a constant public sensation, both good and bad. When Namewee announced that he was going to make a "1Malaysia" movie on 17 March 2010, he is determined to seek funding from the government. But due to his controversial nature, his countless attempts including his vow to meet the Prime Minister, was wholly unsuccessful. Despite no support from the government, Namewee still managed to film the whole movie on a shoestring budget of less than RM1 million. The result is NASI LEMAK 2.0. At the beginning, I was dumbfounded when I first watched the trailer for this movie (It looks too silly to me). But then again, NASI LEMAK 2.0 went on becoming an instant hit when the movie hits local theaters on September 8. In just two weeks' time, the movie grossed an astonishing RM4.5 million at the local box-office and was widely praised by (many) critics and moviegoers. However it's a terrible shame that the movie was forced to halt from showing at local cinemas last week, due to controversy and prejudice over Namewee. As I managed to get my chance of finally watching this highly-debatable movie, I was pleasantly surprised how Namewee has created his first feature-length movie. Before you can shout "amateurish" or "wannabe", let me assure you that NASI LEMAK 2.0 is one of the best local movies I've ever seen in recent years.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Review: THE THING (2011)


RATING: 2/5

When word was out that Universal Studios was going to unleash a prequel to John Carpenter's THE THING (1982), I was very doubtful the filmmakers are going to make things right. After all, THE THING was one of the most terrifying horror movies of all-time and it's a near-perfect masterpiece that was (frankly) hard to surpass. And not surprisingly, it turns out to be a lackluster prequel pale in comparison with the more superior original version.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Review: THE THING (1982)


RATING: 4.5/5

Following from the cult hit of the futuristic action thriller, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK (1981), director John Carpenter has taken a quantum leap from independent filmmaking to his first major studio effort. The result is a spectacular remake of Christian Nyby and Howard Hawks' horror classic THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD (1951), which both of them are actually inspired from John W. Campbell's 1938 novella Who Goes There? But when THE THING was first released back in summer 1982, it flopped miserably with a measly $13 million at the box-office. Much of the poor box-office performance is due to the highly-popular release of Steven Spielberg's E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL in during that time, mainstream viewers are more akin of watching optimistic scenario of alien visitation than the ugly nature of alien invasion. However, the movie had subsequently garnered a strong cult following through the release of home video.



Sunday, 9 October 2011

Review: TROLL HUNTER (TROLLJEGEREN) (2011)


RATING: 2.5/5

Originally known as TROLLJEGEREN, this Norwegian found-footage genre movie was a big hit in its native Norway when it released late last year. Since then, it's been buzzing strong all over the world and subsequently became a worldwide sensation. The movie is so popular that Hollywood has already acquired the rights to remake it. Now here lies the biggest question: What makes TROLL HUNTER such a phenomenal sensation? Upon finally watching it, it's easy to see why. TROLL HUNTER is unlike any found-footage genre movie you mostly expected from the Hollywood counterparts. Sure, found-footage genre nowadays are very typical but Norwegian director Andre Ovredal manages to put a fresh spin in TROLL HUNTER by spicing up the famous Scandanavian folklore about troll and mixing it with horror, adventure and comedy. Best of all, it's the first found-footage movie where you don't have to suffer nausea from the ever-distracting shaky cam movements. As good as it looks, I still feel TROLL HUNTER is a highly overrated movie. More on that later.

Review: JOHNNY ENGLISH REBORN (2011)


RATING: 2/5

The sequel that (nobody) asked for. Remember JOHNNY ENGLISH back in 2003? (You can also read my review here). That so-called James Bond spoof was a shockingly unfunny movie that certainly hurt the comedic reputation of Rowan Atkinson who once gave the world MR. BEAN. But I guess Atkinson and the filmmakers figure it's worth a second shot to improve better in an unlikely sequel called JOHNNY ENGLISH REBORN. After all, it's been 8 years long since the ill-fated first movie and I'm sure there should be some sort of improvement. Too bad that's hardly the case because JOHNNY ENGLISH REBORN still suffers miserably from Atkinson's tired old gags and the whole movie is also the same old tired James Bond spoof we have seen countless times before.



Review: JOHNNY ENGLISH (2003)


RATING: 1/5

Another James Bond-style spoof but JOHNNY ENGLISH can't even stand on its own ground in the vein of what AUSTIN POWERS and SPY KIDS has succeed admirably.



Friday, 7 October 2011

Review: THE THREE MUSKETEERS (2011)


RATING: 3/5

Reinventing an oft-filmed classic literature movie like Alexandre Dumas' The Three Musketeers is nothing new. After all, director Peter Hyams had done it before by mixing with acrobatic Chinese martial arts style choreographed by Xin-Xin Xiong in 2001's THE MUSKETEER. Ten years later, it's Paul W.S. Anderson (RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE) turn, which sees him attempting what would be the biggest-budgeted (at $100 million) reinvention of THE THREE MUSKETEERS ever made. But when I first heard the name "Paul W.S. Anderson" on the helm, my expectation is kept low. I mean, I personally feels the director who takes a potentially good material (e.g. RESIDENT EVIL) and botched everything up into lackluster effort. But surprisingly, his latest movie here is a fantastical, yet entertaining take of the classic tale with PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN vibe. It's still suffers from the director's usual haphazard direction but I have to say, this is easily his most exciting effort to date.



Sunday, 2 October 2011

Review: DRIVE (2011)


RATING: 3/5

Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn's first Hollywood feature, DRIVE, was a critical and crowd sensation when it first premiered at the recent Cannes Film Festival. The movie went on to win Refn the coveted "Best Director" award. For months, DRIVE had been garnered such an overwhelming response that some critics already labeled it as the director's best movie to date, while others even praised it as one of the best movies of the year. I have been eager to find out what makes this movie such a big fuss at the first place. After watching the movie, it's easy to see why -- DRIVE is a refreshing throwback to the '70s and '80s neo-noir crime drama once populated by cult classics by the likes of Walter Hill's THE DRIVER and William Friedkin's TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A. But it's also hardly the kind of masterpiece most people might have expected. It's kind of overrated, but still, DRIVE remains an extraordinarily stylish cinematic experience to watch for.



Review: ABDUCTION (2011)


RATING: 1/5

In the first three installments of THE TWILIGHT SAGA (including this year's upcoming THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN - PART 1), the once-unknown, 19-year-old Taylor Lautner had quickly rose into superstardom, thanks to his good looks and well-toned physique. Ever since then, he became a constant media sensation and also largely considered as the highest-paid teenage actor in Hollywood. After hitting big with THE TWILIGHT SAGA movie series, I'm sure a lot of people are anticipating whether he can carry an entire movie with his first solo outing, ABDUCTION. From the promotional poster, trailer and TV spots, ABDUCTION plays out like a teenage version of THE BOURNE IDENTITY (2002). Such action vehicle suits Taylor Lautner well enough. After all, he's a martial art champion who seems destined to be the next action star to look for. But unfortunately, that's hardly the case. I'm sad to say that ABDUCTION is a hopelessly bland action thriller that you'll also be surprised how come critically-acclaimed director like John Singleton (1991's BOYZ N THE HOOD) would accept this movie at the first place. And what about Lautner? I got two words for him -- wooden and dopey.



Review: FRIGHT NIGHT (2011)


RATING: 3/5

To a legion of die-hard horror fans, 1985's FRIGHT NIGHT was like a sacred art -- a cult classic and a landmark modern vampire genre that combined Hitchcockian themes and teen-oriented, John Hughes-style comedy drama. No doubt the original FRIGHT NIGHT was a clever presentation that poked fun of the oft-told vampire genre while maintaining its scare factor at the same time. But to me, FRIGHT NIGHT was more of an overrated classic that didn't really lives up to its phenomenal reputation I was hoping for when I first seen the movie. Twenty six years later, Hollywood has finally decided to remake FRIGHT NIGHT for today's generation and I'm sure a lot of eagle-eyed genre loyalists are bracing themselves whether the remake manages to live up to their beloved original or simply a cash-in poor rehash. I'm happy and also very surprise to say that director Craig Gillespie (2007's LARS AND THE REAL GIRL, TV's United States Of Tara) and screenwriter Marti Noxon (TV's Buffy the Vampire Slayer) manage to stay faithful while improved upon the flawed original.


Thursday, 29 September 2011

Review: THE SORCERER AND THE WHITE SNAKE 白蛇傳說 (2011)


RATING: 2.5/5

Earlier this year, we are treated with Wilson Yip's highly-anticipated remake of Ching Siu-Tung and Tsui Hark's supernatural romance classic A CHINESE GHOST STORY. Unfortunately that movie was a huge disappointment, and definitely a far cry from the 1987 original version. Naturally, when another highly-anticipated Chinese blockbuster (THE SORCERER AND THE WHITE SNAKE) is arrived with the similar supernatural romance genre, I'm already expecting the worse. After all, it's a movie directed by the inconsistent veteran filmmaker Ching Siu-Tung whose last effort, 2008's AN EMPRESS AND THE WARRIORS, was a huge failure. But THE SORCERER AND THE WHITE SNAKE really caught me by surprise -- it's a fairly entertaining genre mishmash that mixes over-the-top martial arts showcase, imaginative visual effects, above-average acting, overblown romanticism and decent comic reliefs.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Review: DREAM HOUSE (2011)


RATING: 1/5

From the outlook of DREAM HOUSE, two-time Oscar nominated director Jim Sheridan's (MY LEFT FOOT, IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER) first foray into psychological thriller sounds like a refreshing throwback to the "suburban house-in-peril" subgenre popularized in the 1990s with a supernatural twist. What's more, the movie is boosted with an irresistibly dream cast: Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz and Naomi Watts. So what's not to like? Unfortunately the end product in DREAM HOUSE turns out to be an unexpected train-wreck of a movie. Yes, it's pretty unbelievable especially given the caliber of good talents involved here.


Sunday, 25 September 2011

Review: BEACH SPIKE 熱浪球愛戰 (2011)

Review: BEACH SPIKE 熱浪球愛戰 (2011)

BEACH SPIKE tells the story of two carefree and fun-going sexy cousins Sharon (Chrissie Chau) and Rachel (Theresa Fu) who likes to play beach volleyball in their spare time. But their childhood home at Pui Long Bay is about to suffer a major threat when their neighbourhood's wealthy family, Mrs Brewster (Candace Yu) and her three children Natalie (Jessica C), Natasha (Phoenix Valen) and Tim (Him Law), are about to redevelop the quiet beach community entirely. The Pui Long Bay residents are naturally very upset with the sudden decision, and it's up to Sharon and Rachel to stop them at all cost. When the girls lose a beach volleyball game miserably to Natalie and Natasha, they demand a rematch. But instead of just a mere game, both teams will enter a local volleyball tournament, in which the winners will determine the fate of the beach. Complicating the matters is Tim, who is unlike his ruthless sisters Natalie and Natasha, he has a soft tendency of sympathising the local residents at the Pui Long Bay. What's more, he also falls in love with Sharon when he first saved her from drowning at the sea. That anger both Natalie and Natasha, but Tim remains supportive for Sharon until he is willing to abandon his family for the sake of her. In the meantime, Sharon and Rachel have learned that they are no match for their better opponents of Natalie and Natasha. However, thanks to the help of their local martial art masters, Mr and Mrs To (Lo Meng, Sharon Yeung Pan-Pan), they soon mastered their beach volleyball-playing technique spiked with extraordinary kung fu skills to boost their credibility more than ever.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Review: OVERHEARD 2 竊聽風雲2 (2011)

Review: OVERHEARD 2 竊聽風雲2 (2011)

Joe (Daniel Wu) is a mysterious figure with a hidden agenda who eavesdrops on a group of stock fixers called "The Landlord's Club". Among them are Manson Law (Lau Ching-Wan), a highly successful stockbroker, who gradually discovers that he's been under surveillance by Joe. Earlier in the movie, he tries to avoid being followed by Joe but ends up unexpectedly in a car accident. However, he manages to survive. Enter Inspector Jack Ho (Louis Koo), a Security Bureau head officer who begins to investigate the incident and discovers that Manson's sports car which suffered from the crash, is being wired with surveillance device. Soon, the mystery continues as the fate of the three men (Joe, Manson and Jack) intertwines one way or another.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Review: BRIDESMAIDS (2011)


RATING: 3/5

Hailed by critics as "the female version of THE HANGOVER", BRIDESMAIDS was a surprise hit in the summer season, grossing at $168 million at the box-office so far for 18 weeks and still counting since the movie debuted in U.S. on May 13, 2011. Despite almost five months after the U.S. release that this breakout comedy finally manages to reach to our local cinema, it's better late than never to find out what's the fuss is all about. I must say after watching this movie, BRIDESMAIDS has its few genuine moments blessed with top-notch casts, excellent comic timing and thoughtful storyline. Unfortunately, it's also an overrated comedy that works better in individual scenes than a coherent whole.



Sunday, 11 September 2011

Review: X (2011)


RATING: 2.5/5

From the look of the suggestive poster, it's easy to dismiss that Jon Hewitt's Australian thriller entitled X, is a sexually-charged erotica that seems to be leaning more towards exploitation. Unfortunately this is the kind that never judge the movie by its cover. Despite such title as X, this movie is more of a half-realized gimmick rather than a full-fledged erotic thriller it suppose to be.

Review: SHARK NIGHT 3D (2011)


RATING: 1.5/5

I've got three words when I watched David R. Ellis's latest B-movie called SHARK NIGHT 3D -- JAWS rip-off. Okay, fine. As long as the movie captures its satisfying amount of guilty-pleasure moments, I'm up for it. Unfortunately even that fundamental element alone Ellis can't get it right. If that's not insulting enough, it also comes with a dreary PG-13 rating. Now can somebody tell me, since when PG-13 rating works well for a movie that features shark? Yeah, I thought so.



Saturday, 10 September 2011

Review: PUNISHED 報應 (2011)

Review: PUNISHED 報應 (2011)

At the beginning of the movie, we learn that real estate tycoon Wong Ho-Chiu (Anthony Wong) and his ex-convict loyal bodyguard Chor (Richie Ren) has discovered the dead body of Chiu's daughter Daisy (Janice Man) who is kidnapped and murdered. Told in non-linear narrative structure, the movie flashes back and forth on how Daisy comes to such eventual doom. Daisy is a rebellious and spoiled rich girl who likes to overspend her father's money, particularly when she is addicted to drugs. One night during her stepmother's (Maggie Cheung Ho-Yee) birthday, she wants to go to Bolivia for vacation but her father disagrees because he wants her to go to rehab instead. The following day Daisy continue to argue over the matter and ends up running away from home. Things go awry when Wong receives a phone message saying that she has been kidnapped, but he quickly dismisses it as a scheme to get money out of him. The kidnapper demands HK$50 million for ransom and Wong ends up paying the money, hoping he can get back his daughter in no time. Unfortunately, Daisy ends up dead, prompting Wong to take matters in his own hand. With nothing to lose, Wong enlists Chor to help him locate and kill whoever responsible for Daisy's death.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Review: APOLLO 18 (2011)


RATING: 2.5/5

Dubbed as "PARANORMAL ACTIVITY in space", Spanish director Gonzalo López-Gallego's first English-language feature, APOLLO 18, is a typical found-footage genre thriller with a refreshing premise that has lots of potential. No doubt it has few notable chills to look for, except that the movie suffers from thinly-drawn characters, half-cooked plot and some questionable choice of direction here. More on that later.



Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Review: CONTAGION (2011)


RATING: 3/5

At the first glance, a disaster movie filled with lots of A-list casts is simply hard to ignore. What's more, we are talking about Steven Soderbergh here, the director who last made two successful all-star ensembles movies -- TRAFFIC (2000) and OCEAN'S ELEVEN (2001). In his latest movie called CONTAGION, I was hoping him to pull off the same dramatic flair he did before in TRAFFIC. Make no mistake, Soderbergh's take on a viral outbreak isn't your typical sensationalistic Hollywood gloss but rather something subdued and perfectly grounded. Such approach might alienate most mainstream viewers seeking big thrills, but those who are game for something uniquely different -- CONTAGION is surprisingly good movie to catch, uh, I mean, to watch for. But other than that, it's hardly the kind of TRAFFIC-like cinematic sensation.



Monday, 29 August 2011

Review: CONAN THE BARBARIAN (2011)


RATING: 2/5

When German-born music director Marcus Nispel first stamped his feature directorial debut in 2003's horror remake of THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, his career looked very promising. But then came his subsequent movies, including 2007's PATHFINDER and 2009's FRIDAY THE 13TH, all of which suffered from weak and terribly uninspired direction. Now, with his latest feature, CONAN THE BARBARIAN, he continues to disappoint further. While the reboot of the Arnold Schwarzenegger-starred 1982 original does retain most of its similarities, it's sad to say that Marcus Nispel's version is disappointingly charmless and awfully pedestrian.



Saturday, 27 August 2011

Review: COLOMBIANA (2011)


RATING: 2.5/5

Bullet, bra, and babe -- here's another Euro trash from Luc Besson's action-movie repertoire directed by his TRANSPORTER 3 protege Olivier Megaton. COLOMBIANA is a frenzied B-grade product that apes the same old formula you expect to see from Besson's past efforts (e.g. 1990's LA FEMME NIKITA and 1994's LEON: THE PROFESSIONAL). It's nothing new at all, but it's also fairly good enough to qualify this as an entertaining guilty pleasure topped with an engaging performance by Zoe Saldana.



Thursday, 25 August 2011

Review: CARS 2 (2011)


RATING: 2.5/5

For the past decade since Pixar released their first groundbreaking animated feature, TOY STORY back in 1995, the studio had been blessed with a continuously winning streak. Even a lesser one like CARS (2006) wasn't that bad either since it still managed to make a lot of money to the tune of $244 million at the box-office, including an estimated $1 billion in toys merchandise sales. In fact, I personally thought CARS was an underrated gem deserved to be overlooked. Unfortunately after eleven animated features of top-notch entertainment, I'm sad to announce that their latest production entitled CARS 2 is surprisingly disappointing. Don't get me wrong, this unexpected sequel has all the hallmark of Pixar's must-have basic ingredients but suffers miserably from disjointed plot, halfhearted characters and most of all -- lack of heart.



Monday, 22 August 2011

Review: FINAL DESTINATION 5 (2011)


RATING: 2.5/5

New Line Cinema had once announced that the 2009's THE FINAL DESTINATION was the last movie in the horror series. But like how the characters have cheated deaths in the movie, they lied. But who could blame them anyway? Despite negative reviews, THE FINAL DESTINATION went on becoming the highest-grossing movie in the series with $66.4 million at the box-office, largely thanks to its 3D presentation. And here it is. Two years has passed, and along came another installment of a FINAL DESTINATION movie. I'm sure (most) of us will be asking: when is it going to end? If you (just like me) worry that this fifth installment is more of the same lazy approach that have plagued the previous two movies (2006's FINAL DESTINATION 3 and 2009's THE FINAL DESTINATION), I'm surprised that FINAL DESTINATION 5 does deliver its gruesome goods.



Friday, 12 August 2011

Review: COWBOYS & ALIENS (2011)


RATING: 2.5/5

Genre mishmash is nothing new, except you can say that it's rare to see them in a big-budget tentpole release. Back then, there was an attempt to mix old-fashioned western genre with sci-fi trappings and the result was the ill-fated WILD WILD WEST (1999). You know, the one which starred Will Smith, Kevin Kline, Salma Hayek and Kenneth Branagh? Not only the movie was a flop at the box-office, it also highly regarded as one of the worst movies a bankable star like Will Smith had ever made. Now fast forward 12 years later, here's another big-budget attempt to combine western genre and sci-fi element. This time, we have COWBOYS & ALIENS, an interesting genre mash-up that combined classic western and alien invasion movie. On paper, it certainly sounds very cool. I mean, with such crackerjack premise, I'm sure a lot of people are expecting this movie to be one hell of an entertaining summer ride. Make no mistake, the movie has plenty of its moments but it's still rather a waste of opportunity that it's hardly reach to its full potential.


Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Review: HORRIBLE BOSSES (2011)


RATING: 3/5

Have you ever experienced where you have to live like hell facing with an a-hole boss, or to some extent, bosses? I bet at some point in our life, we all deal with the same problem. Now take that everyday situation and transplants it into a feature movie -- voila! You got yourself HORRIBLE BOSSES, a highly kinetic comedy filled with outlandish screwball moments, exceptionally hilarious cast and energetic direction by Seth Gordon.



Saturday, 6 August 2011

Review: RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (2011)


RATING: 4/5

Ten years ago, Tim Burton has attempted to reboot the 1968's sci-fi classic of PLANET OF THE APES. Unfortunately, Tim Burton's version was heavily criticized as one of the worst big-budget remakes ever made, even though the movie did made a lot of money in the box-office. However, Twentieth Century Fox has made a wise decision by going prequel to revitalize the fading franchise. The result is RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (I have to admit, it's one heck of a long-winded title!), a surprisingly excellent summer blockbuster filled with state-of-the-art special effects wonder, engrossing storyline, top-notch cast, and spectacular action set-pieces.



Monday, 1 August 2011

Review: CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER (2011)

Joe Johnston's CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER is flawed, but reasonably entertaining throwback to the old-fashioned action adventure.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Review: WU XIA 武術 (2011)


RATING: 2.5/5

Opened to favorable reviews at the recent Cannes Film Festival, Peter Chan's WU XIA is an interesting if uneven mishmash that mixes old-fashioned martial art genre and CSI-style whodunit -- all in the manner of David Cronenberg's A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE (2005). This movie also marked a stunning comeback for Donnie Yen since IP MAN 2, whose past two highly-anticipated efforts (2010's LEGEND OF THE FIST: THE RETURN OF CHEN ZHEN and 2011's THE LOST BLADESMAN) are nothing more than disappointingly overblown spectacles. Except this time don't expect the kind of action-packed vibe you normally expect from a Donnie Yen movie. Such result might disappoint a lot of fans but those who are adventurous enough to game for something different, WU XIA is surprisingly quite a unique movie to watch out for.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

POV ROUNDUP: Top 10 Donnie Yen's Best Fighting Scenes!

With WU XIA currently showing in theaters, it's hard to believe that the martial-art superstar Donnie Yen is already 48 years old but he still packed a lot of punches. In addition to that, I have compiled some of his most impressive fight scenes he's ever committed during his span of almost three-decades old career in showbiz. Here are my Top 10 below:



This is the first time where two of among legendary Hong Kong martial-art superstar: Jackie Chan and Donnie Yen squared off against each other in an exciting duel.





One of Donnie Yen's most popular movies. The most memorable scene is of course, the amazing martial-art set piece atop the burning poles.




This is the movie that brought the then-unknown Donnie Yen into Hong Kong stardom in his memorable duel against Jet Li.




Donnie Yen might not be a lead star here, but his supporting presence made this exciting movie worth a price of admission alone. Need proof? Check out his intense duel with Cung Le in which they squared off against each other in the crowded marketplace before they engage in a stunning parkour scene.




The phenomenally popular martial-art movie that cemented Donnie Yen as the most sought-after action stars in Asian countries. His earnest portrayal as Master Ip Man was widely considered as his best performance yet, and his action sequences are just as exciting. The movie's most memorable scene in which he squared off against 10 Japanese martial-art students in a dojo became so popular it had subsequently being parodied into many movies ever since.

Check out his video here.




Donnie Yen's final duel with Sammo Hung is certainly a must-see. Who could have thought that the portly 59 years old Sammo Hung still fights like a tiger?

Check out his video here.



Here they go again: Donnie Yen vs. Sammo Hung. This time they squared off atop a round table in a battle of lightning-fast fisticuffs while avoiding from falling off the ground.





No doubt the marketing gimmick behind the highly-anticipated LEGEND OF THE FIST: THE RETURN OF CHEN ZHEN turned out to be a shocking disappointment. But the opening scene is a masterstroke of exhilarating action set piece. Here, Donnie Yen has again demonstrated his sheer agility in a parkour scene where he's out in the battlefield trying to take down a small group of German soldiers.


2. SPL (2005)


Donnie Yen's intense fight with Sammo Hung was one thing. But the movie was better known for his memorable baton vs. knife duel in the back alley against the quick-moving Wu Jing. It's certainly one hell of a breathtaking moment.

Check out his video here.



This is the movie where Donnie Yen pioneered a certain martial-art technique called "MMA" or better known as "Mixed Martial Art". This is best seen in the memorable mano-a-mano duel against Collin Chou where they fight off against each other while adapting different martial-art techniques.

Check out his video here.