February 2013 | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Monday, 25 February 2013

Review: CAGEMAN 籠民 (1992)

Review: CAGEMAN 籠民 (1992)

Set (almost) entirely at the Wah Ha Men hostel, CAGEMAN centres around a bunch of varied residents going through their mundane routines day and night. The hostel is manned by Fatso (Roy Chiao), who has a mentally-challenged son Prince Sam (Liu Kai-Chi) to look after for. Other residents are including Tong (Teddy Robin), an outspoken seller of fraudulent medicines who likes to gamble and smokes a lot; 7-11 (Michael Lee), the oldest resident who never leave his cage and he made his money by selling canned goods from his cage; Sissy (Victor Wong) is 7-11's loyal friend and worker who lives below him; Luk Tung (Ku Feng) is a handyman who often helps to fix broken things; and Taoist (Lau Shun) is a former teacher who likes to talk a lot about philosophy of life. Despite their poor lifestyle living in cramped cages, they treat each other well like a big family. When the landlord decides to sell off the entire building, they are thrown into turmoil but they vow to fight back and refuse to leave at all cost. Soon, Fatso seeks Councillor Chow (Chow Chung) to help out their situation. Chow agrees to support them and fight for their rights at all cost. He uses his great influence to attract media attention by volunteering to stay three days at the Wah Ha Men hostel so he can understand more of these cage dwellers. At first, it looks as if there's high hope for the residents but little they do realise that Councillor Chow is actually manipulated them for his personal gain. In the meantime, there's a new resident named Mao (Wong Ka-Kui), a youngster who just released from prison and vows to stay away from triad society.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Review: SCHOOL ON FIRE 學校風雲 (1988)

Review: SCHOOL ON FIRE 學校風雲 (1988)


When high-school student Chu Yuen-Fong (Fennie Yuen) witnesses a triad beating in the busy street that claimed the life of an unfortunate male student, she faces a lot of pressures from the cops, Hoi (Lam Ching-Ying) and Chuen Ngor (Tommy Wong), his teacher Mr. Wan (Damian Lau) and especially a notorious triad boss Brother Smart (Roy Cheung) who particularly threatens her not to report the incident or suffers terrible consequence. However, Fong ends up testifying anyway which prompted Brother Smart to terrorise her into paying an HK$30,000 legal fee -- which is actually a protection fee. Her best friend Sandy (Sarah Lee) offers help by giving her some money and even hook her up with Brother Scar (Terrence Fok), who falls in love with her immediately for the first time. Unfortunately, tension starts to escalate from bad to worse where everything eventually turns into a full-blown nightmare.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Review: SPIDERS (2013)

Review: SPIDERS (2013)
A would-be entertaining B-grade sci-fi/monster genre that crosses between TARANTULA (1955) and MIMIC (1997), but ends up more like a snoozefest.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Review: FLIGHT (2012)


RATING: 2/5

It's hard to believe that Robert Zemeckis' last live-action movie was Tom Hanks' survival drama CAST AWAY. And that was like 12 years ago back in the year 2000. Ever since then, Zemeckis devoted all his time exploring a series of motion-capture animations with varying degree of success including 2004's THE POLAR EXPRESS, 2007's BEOWULF and 2009's A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Now I'm personally glad that Zemeckis has finally returned to his first live-action movie with FLIGHT. At the first glance, his much-anticipated comeback seems like a guaranteed success: FLIGHT has a knockout, Oscar-worthy premise about a disgraced airline pilot who has miraculously landed a heavily-malfunctioned aircraft safely onto the ground, only to find himself being haunted by his own personal demons. Then there's the ever-reliable Denzel Washington in the lead role. And of course, the spectacular opening 20-minute which featured one of the most frighteningly believable plane crashes ever seen in a movie.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Review: CLOUD ATLAS (2012)


RATING: 2.5/5

David Mitchell's massive, 509-page award-winning novel Cloud Atlas was widely considered as "unfilmable". But three directors -- Lana Wachowski, Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer -- are daring enough to step up the game and delivers one of the most ambitious projects ever made in recent memory. Whether you have read the book or even come to know the premise, it's impossible to ignore the existence of CLOUD ATLAS. The result is undeniably beautiful, but bloated mess of epic filmmaking that doesn't really bring the best out of acclaimed visionary directors of the Wachowski siblings and Tom Tykwer. 

Review: LINCOLN (2012)


RATING: 1.5/5

At the time of this writing, Steven Spielberg's LINCOLN has won numerous awards including BAFTA and Golden Globes as well as scoring 12 Academy Award nominations including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor for Daniel Day-Lewis. Not only that, the historical epic was widely greeted with (near) universal praises among top critics and viewers when it was released last November in the US. Even the US box office grosses was really impressive, which was currently sitting at $173.6 million against the modest $65 million budget. Now that the highly-acclaimed LINCOLN have finally reaches our local shore (which will be open nationwide on February 21), is the movie really that praiseworthy? I hate to say this, but LINCOLN has to be one of the most overrated movies ever made in recent memory. How this movie could have ended up such a praiseworthy historical epic is seriously beyond me.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Review: THE PROTECTOR 威龍猛探 (1985)

Review: THE PROTECTOR 威龍猛探 (1985)

Jackie Chan plays Billy Wong, a Chinese-American cop based in New York City. When his partner, Michael Alexander (Patrick James Clarke) is brutally gunned down by a gang of heavily-armed robbers planning to rob the bar, Billy manages to kill all of them> He proceeds by chasing the last robber on foot and later engaging in a speedboat pursuit, before finally finishing him off in an explosion. His police captain (Victor Arnold) is not pleased with Billy's reckless action and immediately reassigned him to crowd control. Soon after, Billy is assigned as an undercover to a glamorous fashion party with his new partner, Danny Garoni (Danny Aiello). Suddenly, a group of masked men crashes from the rooftop and kidnaps the head gangster, Martin Shapiro's (Ron Dandrea) daughter, Laura (Saun Ellis). Billy and Danny subsequently discover from a reliable source that Laura is taken away to Hong Kong for ransom. As they move to Hong Kong for further investigation, they also learn that a notorious drug lord Harold Ko (Roy Chiao) has something to do with Laura's kidnapping.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Review: UNDECLARED WAR 聖戰風雲 (1990)

Review: UNDECLARED WAR 聖戰風雲 (1990)

UNDECLARED WAR begins with the U.S. ambassador (David Hedison) and his wife brutally slain by a group of terrorists in a crowded cathedral in Warsaw. CIA agent Gary Redner (Peter Lapis), who also there during the shootout, is left devastated because the dead U.S. ambassador is happened to be his brother-in-law. After discovering the same terrorist group, led by Hannibal (Vernon G. Wells) is now showing up in Hong Kong with an elaborate plan to attack an international business conference, Gary hurries there with his partner Callahan (Dean Harrington) to track him down at all cost. However, he is forced to deal with the strict Hong Kong law while keep running afoul with the local police inspector Bong (Danny Lee). When Hannibal and his gang keep succeeding one brutal slain after another that cost a lot of innocent lives, Gary and Bong are forced to set their difference aside and eventually cooperate together to bring the terrorist group down once and for all.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Review: A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD (2013)

Sorry, son. This DIE HARD movie belongs to me and you're belong to Jack shit.
The marketing people has done a bang-up job selling A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD that seems promising enough, but this fifth installment is surprisingly a huge letdown.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

32nd Annual Hong Kong Film Awards Nominations List Are Here!

Here we are again... as the full list of nominations is finally announced for the upcoming 32nd Annual Hong Kong Film Awards, which will be held on Sunday, 21 April. The star-studded and highest-grossing Hong Kong movie of 2012, COLD WAR scored a leading 12 nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director. Other movie which also scored the same 12 nominations is Law Chi-Leung's THE BULLET VANISHES. In third place, is Felix Chong and Alan Mak's THE SILENT WAR with 8 nominations, even though it failed to secure a Best Picture nod. For a complete list, here are the nominees below:

Review: DIE HARD 4.0 (2007)


In conjunction for the upcoming release of A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD this week (review coming soon!), here is the fourth installment of DIE HARD review.

RATING: 2.5/5

Originally titled as LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD (which is actually a reference to New Hampshire's "Live Free or Die" state motto) in the US, the long-awaited DIE HARD 4.0 (that's 12 years since DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE!) is nothing more than a second-rate rehash of DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE -- with cyber-terrorism undertones. Easily the weakest bunch of all DIE HARD movies, this fourth installment has its fair share of excitement but everything else are disappointingly half-baked.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Review: DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE (1995)


In conjunction for the upcoming release of A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD this week (review coming soon!), here is the third installment of DIE HARD review.

RATING: 4/5

Looking back at the first two DIE HARD movies, you realize that John McClane's (Bruce Willis) adventures have expanded from the first movie's confined space of a high-rise building to the first sequel's larger space of an airport. In this third installment, creatively titled as DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE, the space is now widened to New York City. While the familiar sense of claustrophobic tension is getting lesser this time around, fans will be delighted that original DIE HARD director John McTiernan made an exceptional comeback to the franchise he first started back in 1988. The good news is, DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE is marginally better and more engaging than the slightly lackluster DIE HARD 2 (1990). But like DIE HARD 2, the overall execution isn't as tightly focused as the original movie.

Review: DIE HARD 2 (1990)


In conjunction for the upcoming release of A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD this week (review coming soon!), here is the second installment of DIE HARD review.

RATING: 4/5

What do you do if the first movie has already set the bar high? In the case of a sequel, you magnify the scope "bigger and bolder (and to certain extent, better)" where everything are emphasized on the "more" factor. DIE HARD 2 is certainly one of those prime examples. As a thrill-a-minute, action-movie blockbuster, this epic sequel delivers its promise. But it's quite unfortunate that it doesn't reaches the overall height of the much-superior original version of DIE HARD (1988).

Review: DIE HARD (1988)


In conjunction for the upcoming release of A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD this week (review coming soon!), here is the first installment of DIE HARD review.

RATING: 5/5

This is the action movie that started all -- a new breed of subgenre where an unlikely hero caught in the confined space while struggling to battle terrorists or any kind of villains. And the answer is DIE HARD, a modern action picture that sets the high standard for subsequent like-minded genre in the future. This is also the movie that made Bruce Willis (of TV's Moonlighting fame) catapulted into an overnight sensation and put director John McTiernan (PREDATOR) as one of the most sought-after action filmmakers up to that time.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Review: WEB OF DECEPTION 驚魂記 (1989)

Review: WEB OF DECEPTION 驚魂記 (1989)

Brigitte Lin is Jane, a troubled barrister who is about to relocate to Canada and leaving behind her faithful assistant May (Pauline Wong). However, Jane finds herself being blackmailed by an unknown party and suspects it's either May or her shady broker Miss Chow (Elizabeth Lee) might have something to do with this. As the movie progresses further, May is actually the one who send the blackmail note to Jane all along. Apparently, she feels betrayed and underappreciated after so many years of hard work but Jane doesn't even bother to take her along to Canada. Meanwhile, May's roommate Queenie (Joey Wong) desperately needs a huge sum of money to clear her twin sister, Catherine's (also Joey Wong) debt she has owed the triad. When May knows about Queenie's situation, she suggests her to stage a break-in at Jane's mansion where she keeps the money inside a bag stored somewhere in the basement. At first, it's supposed to be a simple plan but things suddenly go wrong. It turns out that Jane doesn't attend to a company party as scheduled, and ends up struggling with Queenie during the particular night. Queenie ends up dead, and Jane is naturally freaked out. She quickly calls May to help her solve the matter. At the same time, Catherine happens to be at the mansion as well and determines to exact revenge for her twin sister's death and plans to take the money together.

Review: LADY IN BLACK 奪命佳人 (1987)

Review: LADY IN BLACK 奪命佳人 (1987)

Brigitte Lin plays May, an estranged wife who is stuck in a loveless marriage with her naive husband, Kin (Tony Leung Ka-Fai). Kin is a compulsive gambler who always dream of getting rich and May's father-in-law Grandpa Leung (Shek Kin) doesn't particularly like his attitude. When Kin stuck in a huge gambling debt, he persuades his wife to embezzle HK$500,000 from the company she works for. She agrees to help him on the condition that he will have to return the money just in time before anyone notice about the embezzlement. Unfortunately being an irresponsible person as he is, Kin returns home and confesses that he loses all the money May has given it to him. Desperate to loan money, both Kin and May travel to Thailand to seek financial help from Kin's wealthy relative. However their attempt proves to be fruitless. On the boat back, May finds out that Kin is trying to commit suicide. When she tries to help him out, she slips off the boat and falls into the water. At first, Kin tries to rescue her but seeing that this is his chance to make her the scapegoat of the crime, he deliberately letting her hand go and left her there. She is presumed to be drowned and this leaves Kin free from his responsibility to start a new life by romancing his boss's (Kwan Shan) daughter and eventually work his way becoming a manager. He also wastes no time in sending Grandpa Leung to old folks' home and maintain custody with his only son, Ming (Gregory Lee). However, Kin doesn't know that May is still alive from the boating accident. She is fortunate enough to be saved by a boat filled with Vietnamese refugees, except that her face is left horribly disfigured and even damaged her throat until she is unable to speak a word. Upon reaching home back to Hong Kong, she is struggling to put her life back together, only gradually to find herself in a rotten hell.

Review: ON THE RUN 亡命鴛鴦 (1988)

Review: ON THE RUN 亡命鴛鴦 (1988)

Yuen Biao plays Heung Ming, a down-on-his-luck cop who is hoping his ex-wife, Inspector Lo Huan (Ida Chan Yuk-Lin) can help him emigrate together to Canada to start a new life. However, Lo Huan ends up getting shot in the head by a professional killer named Pai (Pat Ha). Apparently, Lo Huan is a narcotics officer who knows too much about her current lover, Lu's (Charlie Chin) dirty deeds involving police corruption and drugs. Ming is furious when he finds out about his ex-wife's death and determines to track down the killer at all cost. His action worries Lu a lot and so he sends out his team of corrupt cops (Lo Lieh, Yuen Wah and Phillip Ko) to get rid of Ming before the situation gets worse. With no one else to turn to, Ming's only ally is surprisingly Pai, who in turn, helps him to overcome the matter.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Review: BULLET TO THE HEAD (2013)

Review: BULLET TO THE HEAD (2013)
The combination of Sylvester Stallone and director Walter Hill of 48 HRS fame sounds like lots of fun, but BULLET TO THE HEAD only accomplishes as a forgettable old-school action movie.