Reviews written by registered user

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234 reviews in total 
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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Undistracting giant insects, 13 January 2012

This sounded goofy and I really didn't want to watch it but I did, and was pleasantly surprised by it.

Despite it being a small movie, the special effects were decent. Not great, but good enough to not be distracting, and this was really the key that made the movie watchable, since there were plenty of giant insects attacking people. The actors weren't bad, though largely forgettable, save for Ray Wise, who played the Devil in Reaper and amusingly hams it up here as the pooch-loving, ex-military father of the hero.

I didn't much care for the characters apart from Wise's, but the movie kept the action going at a good pace anyway and there weren't too many scenes where I got bored.

Ip Man (2008)
Great action, simple story, 13 January 2012

I'd heard a lot about Ip Man before finally watching it, and I think I was a bit biased by expectations though I tried to watch it objectively.

I can understand why the movie was as popular as it was. It's a tale of a real-life hero and features incredible martial arts choreography. Wing Chun, a seemingly defense-oriented style of kungfu, is amazing to behold, and surprisingly, I don't recall ever seeing it on screen before this movie. The movie's two action choreographers - one of whom is Sammo Hung - took home the awards in that category in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

The story, unfortunately, I found a bit too simple and bordering on hokey. Ip Man kicks butt, rallies the Chinese people, the end. I would've like to see some kind of background on him. He just simply exists and is a rich kungfu master with a wife and kid, or rather with a family that can be used against him to force him to fight. There's really not much else to his family. Or to him, for that matter.

Donnie Yen seems perfect for the role. He looks like a perfectly charming, non-threatening fellow, until you get him to fight and then you're on the floor with your nose bleeding the next second. He's also capable of looking as though in profound thought, even when there's nothing much to think about.

Watching brilliant kungfu thrills me as much as the next guy but I'd prefer to watch it either in an all-out action movie with a throwaway plot or as a masterpiece of direction with an engaging story to boot. Ip Man is the latter with a story that doesn't work for me, sadly. As such, I'm not too enthused about catching its sequel or unofficial prequel.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Irene Dunne, from repressed to wild, 7 September 2010

I'm not a fan of Irene Dunne because - much like with Katharine Hepburn - she has these affectations in her acting style that you either love or can't stand. To me, she usually seems like she's hoity-toitily overacting.

As this movie began, I was pleasantly surprised by Dunne because she was playing a repressed small-town woman and thus didn't produce any of the grand gestures that are typical of her. Those come later (unfortunately), when she "Goes Wild," so to speak. I suppose the flashy role is why she got an Oscar nomination.

It's a unique story that plays out unpredictably, and that made it watchable, even if I didn't quite buy the relationship between Dunne and Melvyn Douglas, and found their characters kinda off-putting.

A fun faux thriller, 7 September 2010

I'm not sure if "Men in Black" is supposed to mean something in Cantonese/Hong Kong but I was very amused by how they filmed this movie. Though it's a simple story of four men looking to play while their spouses/partners are away, it's set like a typical Hong Kong thriller, with action sequences, scenes of faux suspense, and even a twist that's revealed at the end.

The cast is uneven. The veterans are effortlessly good - Eric Tsang, Chapman To, Jordan Chan, Teresa Mo - but they make the newcomers pretty bad in comparison. Of the latter group, the only one I know is Candy Lo, and though I love her song "Rubbish," I don't think she's a particularly good actress. Not yet anyway. Neither is the cute young guy of the group, who mainly stands out because his name is inexplicably "Spirit Blue." I was wondering if he's a singer or something but no, apparently he's just a cute amateur actor with an odd stage name.

Frozen (2010/I)
8 out of 20 people found the following review useful:
A small, effective thriller., 7 September 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I like to describe movies as "small" when they feature a small cast and so:

Frozen is a small, effective thriller that is best watched in the dark of your bedroom with a big screen TV. I say that because I got quite annoyed with the theater audience during its screening.

It's a simple premise done well. People are believably stupid enough to both take a ski lift at night just before bad weather arrives, and absent-mindedly strand skiers upon said lift while heading off to do whatever personal business they deem more important.

And so the three skiers find themselves way up high on a chairlift that has stopped operations for the next five days till the next weekend crowd. Simple, plausible, and a terrifying prospect (one of the reasons why I don't ski).

I was impressed with the writer/director, Adam Green. He carried out the human drama of three people panicking without making any of them too shrill and unsympathetic, conveyed effectively the increasing despair of realizing no one's coming to help, as well as managed great suspense with some scenes. It was with those scenes that I got annoyed with the audience. Because it's a fairly quiet movie, when the audience - especially the women - got nervous, they giggled nervously. I think I heard a squeal at some point too. Distracting.

The movie isn't perfect - there were some scenes when logic or plausibility is defied and the makeup could've been better - but it's definitely one of the best thrillers I've seen for a while.

0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Watch it only if you're an Anita Mui fan., 7 September 2010

Ugh. It's quite rare that the English title of a Hong Kong movie is better than the original Chinese one but I'm sure they gave this movie its Chinese name (which translates to '91 Condor Heroes) solely to capitalize on lead actor Andy Lau's popularity from his role as Yang Guo in the classic TVB series, Return of the Condor Heroes. Any connection between this movie and that series is loose at best and I didn't really pick up on it, especially since the plot of this movie is all kinds of ridiculous. Apparently Wong Kar Wai co-wrote this. No wonder it barely makes sense to me, ha.

The direction of this movie was bad as well - scenes could go from comedy to action to melodrama in the course of a minute without any regard for flow, though the fighting sequences, choreographed by luminary Corey Yuen, were good whenever there wasn't an over-reliance on special effects.

The dearly departed Anita Mui is classy in every role she plays. Yes, even in her dual role of the twin sister who gets shot in the butt.

As for Andy Lau and Aaron Kwok, well, there's a good reason why they only won their respective first acting awards 9 and 14 years after this movie.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
A bad throwback to the "mo lei tau" comedies of the 80's and early 90's, 7 September 2010

This movie's a throwback to the "mo lei tau" (brainless) comedies of the 80's and early 90's, and stars probably the queen of them, Sandra Ng. Though she has since turned out many strong dramatic performances - including her Hong Kong Film Award-winning role in Portland Street Blues, she still churns out these schlocky features regularly, I guess because she has a strong fan base with them (I'm definitely part of that fan base).

That said, I was quite disappointed with this feature. Most of the jokes fell flat and in this day and age and even in Hong Kong, the gay stereotypes perpetuated in this movie were offensively over-the-top (and worse, not funny). I like the other lead actress, Charlene Choi (of the singing duo Twins), but her insouciant acting style always borders on amateurish and it takes a better movie than this to pull it off. The other actors were either bad or forgettable, save for the veteran old actor whose name I don't know - he plays Choi's father. I reckon being able to handle a "mo lei tau" role takes a lot more skill than it seems - it really is more than just overacting.

Overheard (2009)
2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
A good thriller but the story could've been tighter., 7 September 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I'm increasingly loving the direction that Hong Kong movies have taken in the new millennium - or rather, after the super success of Infernal Affairs in 2002 - towards taut thrillers full of action and twists and polish. However, while most look good on the surface, not many reach the level of quality that Infernal Affairs did (I much preferred it to The Departed, incidentally).

Overheard is about a trio from a police surveillance team who illegally use "overheard" insider trading information towards their own gains and have to face the violent repercussions that follow. Quite an interesting story but it wasn't as tight as I would've liked. I mean, oops one of them lets a witness see his face and oops that witness just happens to spot him again while about to flee the country - that's too much of a stretch.

The action's good though - there were some tense sequences - and the acting's decent. I'm a fan of Lau Ching Wan and though Louis Koo and Daniel Wu are overrated, they're adequate enough here. Actually I think I've never seen Koo better, though he looked much too pretty for his role.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
"Oh pleeeeease let me have my letter back!", 7 September 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The premise sounded a bit far-fetched at first but upon further consideration, I think the story of a demented but cunning man wanting to frame his wife for his suicide could make a plausible movie even if it were set in current times (or at least an episode of CSI). Set in the 50's though, it all comes across as a tad too silly, when Loretta Young runs around pleading for the letter from whomever it's with. 5

I'm not really a fan of Young's acting, probably because she's often pigeonholed as a put-upon wife, which is a pretty limited role. At least her Oscar win for The Farmer's Daughter for playing a Swedish-farmgirl- turned-congresswoman was quite deserved - it was a juicy part and she was great with it.

1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
A lesser Preston Sturges feature, 7 September 2010

Perhaps it was because this was before Preston Sturges took over directing his own screenplays but Easy Living feels like one of the lesser in his body of work.

It does well as a screwball comedy but it isn't outstanding. As much as I love Jean Arthur, she isn't either, and Ray Milland just isn't suave enough to be a Cary Grant-esquire romantic lead. The cast just seems to be rolling along with the machinations of the plot, unlike say, Bringing Up Baby, in which Katharine Hepburn and Grant bring larger-than-life characters that prance along grandly with its screwball story.

Easy Living does have some memorable scenes though, including the one at the automat - a Depression-era fast food place - in which a grand ol' food fight breaks out, though admittedly, I find it more memorable because of how novel I think the concept of the automat is.

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