Show East; Egg Films; Tartan | Korean | 122 minutes | Rated R
"Whether it be a grain of sand or a rock, in water, they both sink"
Once in a while, there are film that will redefine cinema. I say that boldly, because I think "Oldboy" is one of them. The minute I finished this film on a streaming site, I had to find out whether it was available in stores here, and luckily, the local comic store had it on the shelf. This is one of those gleaming gems that everyone has to see.
Loosely based on the Manga of the same name by Nobuaki Minegishi and Garon Tsuchiya, it follows the tale of Choi Min-sik as Oh Dae-Su, a man who is kidnapped and locked away in a make-shift prison for 15 years, all without a reason why. Almost as strange as his imprisonment, he is later released, neatly dressed, however believes to be under some sort of hypnosis. After meeting a sushi chef by the name of Mi-do (Kang Hye-jeong), he is contacted by a man claiming to be the one responsible for his captivity. With the help of Mi-do, he sets out on a path of vengeance, leading up to the ultimate truth of "why he was released".
I have several scenes which still leaves me in awe, from the chopstick tunneling, the hall fight, to a duel between Oh Dae-Su and the white haired Mr. Han. It was very well done, really keeps you glued to the film. I have to say, it holds its own against thrillers that we normally see here in the states. Choi Min-sik's protrayal really shines here. One of the best actors in Korean. Although he does star in the Park Chan-Wook's third and final vengeance film, "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance", his performance captivates the film.
The film has been well received by critics everywhere and is ranked by CNN in the Ten best Asian Film ever made. There was some news of a Hollywood remake of Oldboy (figures), being helmed by Steven Spielberg and Will Smith set to star in, but as of November of 2009, the producing team said that the proposed project is dead.
One of those movie that you have to check out. Is out on DVD. Check it out.
A quick thanks to those that have read my review blog.
Kang Je-Kyu Film Co. Ltd., Sony Pictures, Destination Films | Korean | 148 minutes | Rated R
I seen this on a Blockbuster shelf some years back and rented it. It has now been in my list of favorite movies of all time. While overshadowed by other war campaigns such as World War II and the Vietnam, the Korean War is a conflict that should never be forgotten. Since the invasion by North Korea to now, the two Koreas are still on stand by, watchful of each other, but to many Koreans, nothing would be more satisfying than to see the Unification of Korea.
Jin-Tae (Jang Dong-gun) and Jin-Seok (Won Bin) are two brothers striving for a better future in 1950s Korea. Jin-Tae works tirelessly shining shoes, saving up enough money for his younger brother Jin-Seok to go to college, but it all comes to a screeching halt as North Korea invades the South on June 25, 1950. With their family, they try to make their way to their uncle's house to escape from the clutches of the communists. While looking for a train, they're forced to join up in the South Korean army and are sent off to battle. They must now look out for each other if they are to make it back home together. Jin Tae discovers a way to send his younger brother Jin Seok home safely, but must risk his own life in the process.
Fans of the war genre (Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers) will not be disappointed with Tae Guk Gi. It has a lot of battle scene, some of which are pretty graphic, from large gunfights in rural and urban areas, to one on one bayonet fights. There are some CGI sequences that look really dull, but the story and scenes are still impressive. I own the DVD that has a good amount of goodies, from "Behind the Scene" to a look back on the actual Korean War with interviews with Veterans that served in the South Korean forces.
Tae Guk Gi is a must see.
Mandarin Films (HK); Cathay-Keris Films, Innoform Media (SP) | Chinese, Japanese | 108 min | Rated R
Another martial arts flick I've seen last month. It is a semi-biographical picture about the late Ip Man, master of Wing Chun, and is the master that taught Bruce Lee.
Ip Man, starring Donnie Yen, begins in 1930s Foshan, China, where Ip leads a modest life of training in Wing Chun and caring for his wife, Wing Cheng, and son, Ip Chun. Wing doesn't share Ip's enthusiasm and insteads disapproves of his usual routine of fighting and his discussions with fellow masters about martial arts. As a wealthy man, Ip feels no need to take on any disciples or opening up a school, but accepts duels, one with Master Liao as a friendly match. Second, with Jin Shanzhao, a crazed martial artist that arrives in Foshan and with his group fights all of the other schools to prove that his Northern style is the best. Life in Foshan is abruptly interrupted as occupation by Japanese forces in 1937 forces Ip Man and his family out of their home, and their wealth taken away. Working in the coal mines to support his family, along with others, he learns of Miura, a Japanese General offering rice, in return, fighting his karate disciples. Discovering that someone he knew was murdered in one of these matches, Ip Man challenges Miura.
It definitely has those "Holy f***ing shit!" moments when you see Ip Man deliver his super speed multiple punches, or when he takes on 10 karate black belts in Miura's matches, but one has to guess whether if this really took place in Ip Man's life or not. Most of the scenes in the film were true, with Ip Man's eldest son Ip Chun and other of his disciples providing historic facts and martial art direction for the producers, but others were written up to provide dramatic and flashier elements to the movie. I don't think Ip Man went in and started kicking 10 black belts around, but it did look awesome, seeing him break limbs and beating faces to a pulp with lightning fast punches.
I am glad that they are going to release Ip Man 2, where the story takes place in Hong Kong and will finally have his famed disciple Bruce Lee, will be release in May of this year.
Ip Man is available in U.K, not so sure about a U.S release yet, but copies of the movie are on ebay. I found a 2-disc DVD set with english subs there, looks sweet to own. If you want to "check" it out now, pm me lol.
Sahamongkol Film International | Thai, Japanese | 110 minutes | Rated R
lol Dare's request for martial arts flicks. I'm a big fan of them myself, which brings me to this review. I kept reading of a "female" version of Tony Jaa on the web, and so on my search, found this title. After checking out trailers and some reviews, I went to see what the fuzz was about.
Jeeja stars as a autistic girl named Zen who lives with her mother, Zin, and friend Moom, she gets caught up with her mother's dark past and must fight to save them from gangsters wanting them dead. As a young girl, she begins to take a liking to the art of Muay Thai. Learning from watching fighters train in the academy next door to them and from movies, her skills and reflexes improve over time. Years past, and her mother's condition from cancer worsens. Having to undergo treatment, they worry about how to cover the bills. Moom soon discovers Zin's old record book, from when she was a high-end moneylender in the Thai gang, containing logs from debtors that own her money. Not knowing of Zin's dark past, Zen and Moom set out to collect for the hospital bills. The first attempt turns violent, but after years of training, Zen puts her Muay Thai to use and fights back. This catches the attention from No. 8, Zin's ex-husband, and leads to further confrontations with the Thai gangsters.
I really enjoyed Ong-Bak, totally mesmerized from the insane fight scenes. This definitely has that. The story could have been better executed, but it turned out to be a excellent film, nevertheless. In some of the fight scenes, it doesn't look like Jeeja is putting out enough force with her kicks and punches to really sent someone to the ground. However, just her overall dedication and amazing skill as both martial artist and actress make me a fan. Training with Panna Rittikrai's stunt team while already experienced in Taekwondo, Jeeja prove to be someone to watch out for.
I believe it has been released in the states already. It is available in U.K too. Check it out.
Toho - 2005 - 133 minutes - PG
Seen this title numerous times before finally deciding to sit down one night and watch it. This was the time when I watch one movie I reviewed and needed a cleanser to wash those vile images from my mind. Well, this did it for me. It's a rather interesting film, featuring a talented cast, including Maki Horikita (if you're familiar with Japanese movies and drama, she's recognizable in this one), and Koyuki from "The Last Samurai", opposite Tom Cruise. The story centers on relationships of several individuals trying to make their way in late 1950s Tokyo in the midst of its post-war reconstruction.
It is filled with everything, from comedy to drama. Depending on the person, it'll make you laugh and cry as relationships are formed, while some are torn apart. I have to tell you, I really, really enjoyed this movie. "The Butcher" was definitely a mind-blender, saturating your very being with guilt-ridden emotions, while this one uplifts, even inspires. As a fan of Maki's previous work (Nobuta wo Produce, Atashinchi no danshi), it pleases me that even though starring alongside a great cast, she equally shares the spotlight in several scenes.
The beginning is kind of slow, which is usually the case in these type of films, but takes off later on. Other than that, it was a perfect movie for me. I would definitely give this movie a try.
Tartan Video - 2009 - 75 Minutes - Not Rated - October 30th, 2009
So, today, I had some time to check out something that I acquired recently, the Korean horror film, The Butcher. Of course, seeing some dude in a pig mask brandishing a chainsaw, I knew that this was going to be interesting. Ok, it's basically a mockdocu showing a group of snuff film makers, discussing ways on torturing their 4 victims for a good movie. Victims have helmet-cams strapped to their heads, while the crew walk around with hand-held camcorders providing different POVs in the film showing the perspectives of the victims, as well as the crew taping their terrifying ordeal. Shortly into the movie, a couple gets dragged off into a room, covered with blood-stained plastic, where they meet the main guy the crew call, "The Pig".
I have to say, what a movie. When the caption on the movie poster says "Brutal", and "Shocking", it means it. Not really as much gore and puke-fest like other films in this type of horror genre, but it is definitely a disturbing ride. The playoff in the character interaction is what really drives this film, as the victims cry and scream as "The Pig" delivers his own brand of "film-making" techniques.
One of the main let-downs is the lack of a plot. Not much to go on, other than 4 victims being tortured to death, just for the crew to sell their videotapes overseas and make a quick buck. It's a twisted film, but in the end, it left me with a depressing ending. Had to go watch something more family-oriented, trying to get my mind off of "The Butcher".
Not something to watch with the family and dog. I didn't enjoy it that much, but in a way it affected me unlike other horror films.