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Shi hun (2013)
Another psychological horror you don't want to miss
I must say I'm glad I pick out this film to watch for once in a while you find gem among dirt, and I must admit I am very astound of the eerie ambiance created, the mesmerizing and surreal setting, the slow yet never boring pace. It's a journey into the dark side of a human being and whether or not supernatural was involved, it left completely to an open interpretation just as the whimsical motive each characters carry with.
I won't be long with my review since other reviews on this page have basically said it all. I just want to say that a true psychological horror fans would definitely appreciate this and to miss it would be a sin.
A fine concept of thriller poorly executed.
Although it might not be very original but the thriller concept of how blood relation might overcome conscience and common sense is still a fine concept, it's just in that matter, Gongbeom stands in a gray area. If it was to emphasize on drama, it lacks character digging and believable motive along the storyline. If it was to emphasize on thriller, it lacks suspense and shove up the climax too harshly and inconveniently that it felt so cheap by the end.
The story will left the viewer many questionable logic flaws here and there, which is inevitable in order to keep the story going. There were time I have to admit some tension was flowing and put hope that it better have a punchline which would turn the movie into a powerful thriller, but it never delivered. And aside from the two main characters of father and daughter, all the other supporting characters seem to hold little to no value and make a very non-essential existence. All in all point is taken, it's a fine movie only could and should be better executed.
A character study rather than horror.
There were times when any of us walk into IMDb, click on certain movie only to find that the rating was way underrated, and for this case I am afraid I am on that unease position. Only last weekend that I got the pleasure of watching this movie once again on blue-ray after the first viewing more than a decade ago and it certainly still hold its charm and value very much.
First, when I say that this movie was underrated, I don't really blame anyone who might be disappointed or mislead by the fact that this movie very much suggest itself a mainstream supernatural horror movie but instead turn out to be more likely a psychological horror and thus gave a low rating to the movie. I can understand that this whole thing is part of market strategy since by the time of this movie being made horror genre are booming in Asian market and the producers might feel the urge to slip in even the slightest of a horror gesture. Yes, one can safely assume so.
Back to the film itself, I am very much agree this was not a film for everybody. The pace was slow but never boring, it was mainly focus on three of our main characters throughout the movie. One is a taxi drive who was on the surface seems like a very decent and nice guy, second is a young and attractive woman who was a regular victim of domestic violence and third is a dime novelist with a work on progress to score his one hit wonder. All of three with their own dark and unpleasant past and all of three share the same creepy and slum apartment building. You are going to have a hunch from start that things are surely gonna turn nasty.
The pace flow so slowly that it was more like a character study instead of a story. You can see how they joy and anger, their bright and dark side, their frustration, desperation and at certain point you might even be attempted to think that there might be supernatural involved. After all, some evidences strongly suggest that somehow our main characters were involved or part of the horrible past occurrence in that same apartment building, is it possible or it is all but cruel coincidence? In the end the movie left you with no blatant explanation, and just as confused as the main character might be, you are to take on your own interpretation.
Final say, I strongly recommended this movie to any fans of horror and thriller genre. For once in a while you gonna find something precious among dirt. this is it!
A different approach of a very common theme.
Korean movies has never ceased to surprise me. Every once in a while, I tend to find a gem beneath stones. What I like about Korean movies is the fact that they dare to take a different approach of a common theme that sometimes it looks like they just don't care much about box office, public ethic and conduct to indulge audience who are looking for something unique and different, least to say memorable!
As in New World, at least that's what I feel about. I mean you can find tons of movies out there about gangster and undercover cop but never that I saw anything that end up so gloomy and cynical that it make other similar theme looks pretty like a fairy tale. The power of the climax lies within a mixed emotion created for the audience to feel for the characters or to cheer for what was expected.
It was cliché, yes, and like every other movies if you look hard enough you're gonna find a little flaw here and there, but that really was not the issue to skip this piece of cinema. It may start slow and never bother to get any faster but it never failed to keep you on the seat, and like many other Korean movies with serious theme, it looks like the director never forgot to slide in some comical and situated humor to lighten up the mood. One thing that I might agree among anything else was the epilogue which seemed a little misplaced and out of essential, which in my opinion should be removed entirely from the movie to preserve its even darker intention.
Finally, If you love Korean movies or movie of the similar genre, make sure you don't miss this. You wouldn't want to!
It is good but could be better
First I have to admit that nowadays the more I watched Korean movies, the more I appreciate their good work with a stretch range of variance themes. For right now I am in a state that I will pick a recommended Korean movie over the mega budget Hollywood flick any day of the week. Since my first introductory of Korean movie more or less a decade ago with the like of 'My Sassy Girl', 'Sorum', 'Memories of Murder', 'Oldboy', etc, things only get better.
And with 'The Yellow Sea' I can't help but to once again utter my sincere compliment. The movie basically divided into four segments each related to the situation of our protagonist. The protagonist himself is a grey character between evil and good, which didn't come as surprise, as many Korean movies has done a lot deal with such a character, take 'Oldboy' or 'I am a Father'.
The first segment is meant to tell us about the dark and depressing background of the protagonist and the motive following his grim decision for the audience to tolerate. The second segment is what followed after and I assured you it will thrill and hold you at the edge of your chair. Very pacey and full of suspense that the second segment itself could stand as a suspenseful modern noir, of which Alfred Hitchcock and Billy Wilder will nod in full agreement.
But I think what followed after the second segment is where the movie slipped over. Director Na Hong Jin (from 'The Chaser') tried everything to provide a decent thriller, but maybe he just tried too hard. The way he prolonged the movie and transformed it into multi characters rather than kept focusing on the main character, the die hard character in bloody melee combat, the car flipping and car chasing scenes which was superb and not inferior to that Hollywood's made, those were all but just not add up to the movie's substantial but rather blurred the entire purpose of the movie.
If the movie is intended as a powerful thriller drama then it surely slipped in the latter half of the movie. A decent thriller drama can not be stuffed with too much action flick I guess. Nevertheless I still like the movie very much and would like to recommend it to all Asian(or Korean) movie enthusiast. Only that I really wish the director made the movie only three quarters as long, stayed focus on the protagonist's gloomy campaign and ended it up the way it was. It would be a dark and a too powerful movie instead.
Well done Korean style gangster movie
First, forgive me for sounding redundant, but in my opinion, Korean movies nowadays has surpassed Hollywood movies in term of storyline. I just can't stand how nowadays CGI has become kind of plague in almost every major movies of Hollywood with thin storyline. Not that CGI is a bad thing really but it just kinda hurt to see how decent Hollywood movies without CGI or dirty teen humor are failing in today's box office.
And although it's not a Hollywood produced, but watching 'Nameless Gangster' is like a remedy to bring back those old sweet experiences when movies are all but the lavish computer generated images. Loyalty, deception, greed, arrogance, corruption, integrity, well it just hold too much elements in storytelling of being an epic gangster movie with some comical situation which wouldn't hurt nobody. You won't find bullets flying or machetes swinging but you'll find a compelling story of how a minor custom officer build up his career through the top of Busan underground society and the downfall later on.
While it's not fair to compare Nameless Gangster head to head with classic Scorsese's picture like Goodfellas, but one can't help but to notice the similarity, and indeed both movies did build the same tense of depicting the long shot career of an underground character to build both our sympathy and repulsion. Choi Min Sik is a real versatile Korean actor, he has done a stretch range of convincing acting from a vicious protagonist in 'Oldboy' to a brutal serial killer in 'I Saw the Devil', and here he scored once again to add more depth to the movie with Ha Jung Woo putting the equal class of performance. Just great.
So give it a try if you're looking for a well packed story of a gangland world, but in Korean style if not to say in Eastern style, mind you!
It's a shame this movie didn't get enough attention as it should be...
Pintu terlarang (2009)
A fine psychological horror and a slap for other Indonesian horror.
I have just recently had the opportunity to watch this movie even though I have noticed the surround positive reviews of the movie for some time. And after watching it just yesterday, it would be fair to say that this picture by far is the best modern picture made by Indonesian filmmaker.
It is a bold, horrifying, intense and mean noir psychological horror. The horrid surreal atmosphere and chilling gore very much remind me of Lynch's and Aronofsky's style which is outstanding. Watching this movie really gives you a more complex horrid feeling than any kind of Indonesian horror with excessive portion of demon and ghost appearance more than you beg for of which you can't help but to smirk. And fairly said, this movie has put back faith in me that indeed Indonesian filmmaker can so do much better than only of those sex exploit movies and series of ridicule horror.
Finally said, this movie is very recommended as an introductory to a fine piece of Indonesian modern cinema. And despite the plot may not be very original at all and at some point the gory scene may need a little extra stomach to bear, but to skip this modern horror experience would be a sin to every horror/thriller movie lover.
Hua pi (2008)
It is a horror movie...or is it?
The movie painted skin is loosely based on a legendary Supranatural Chinese tale 'Hua Pi' about a disguised demon under a human skin(drawn skin exactly). Like many favorite ancient tales, despite the illogical and senseless aspect, always have some moral aspect to be dig or contemplated over. Painted skin in this case is not much different of. It digs a very deep portrait about the meaning of love and the willing of sacrificing for love. And believe it or not the movie want to show us that not only do human can sacrifice when it came to the matter of love.
Although stamped as a 'horror' movie but sorry to say, don't expect to see very much horror in it. It's nowhere near the horror like you saw in most Zombie movie or modern slasher horror. It's in a more mannerly and elegant way to level its emotion to human being and in my opinion the horror thing is just to dramatize the center love story and not really the main course in the first place. Some humor in the movie is driven well enough to at least force some smirk on audiences. And for those who're aware, with Donnie Yen as the main cast, one can expect less than some martial arts showdown. The rest of the cast is very eye catching especially the irresistible beauty of Zhou Xun.
And finally orchestrated by veteran director Gordon Chan who has experienced in so much genre since his existence in mid 80's, the movie is not disappointed at all except in my opinion if only the director did try boldly adapted a more tragic ending, it could really be better. Because in order to keep the movie running, when the plot seems finally reach an end path, the revealing of the demon's true identity in the end is way out of the blue and the motive is also very laudable.
I'll give it a fair 6/10. Not Special but Enjoyable.
Tin joek jau ching (1990)
Unforgettable Drama of Romance
'A Moment of Romance' is undoubtedly one of those old HK cinematic gems, but to appreciate and applaud the movie utmost, one should really understand and familiar with the origin of the movie itself. By the time around late 80's to mid 90's, plenty of HK movie appeared in theme dominated not far from Triad Flick, a sad ending love story, hard boiled gun fight action or some silly comedy (mostly by Stephen Chow and gang). AMOR in this case still follows the mainstream, combining the tragic love story in the midst of underground Triad affair. The main lead Andy Lau around that time enjoyed the peak of his popularity that he did starred in not less than 10 movies a year while the main lead Jacklyn Wu rolled in her very first debut which propelled her to stardom. Andy played Wah Dee, a young and rebellious triad member with some remorse within, while Jacklyn played Jojo, an innocent young girl come from a rich family.
The plot actually flows so lightly and in some way over dramatically, yet it never get you boring and leave a mesmerizing impressions. A coincidence encounter between Wah Dee and Jojo in a robbery went wrong lead to an endearing feeling between them. And when a love story happens between a triad member and the only heir of a wealthy family, it doesn't take a genius to get the idea of how it wasn't a silky smooth romance, amidst the conflict occurred between Wah Dee and fellow brutish gang leader Trumpet(Tommy Wong) in account of Jojo. The friendship between Wah Dee and Rambo(Richard Ng), an all time loser who normally nobody would even took a glance at, added some depth to the story and put an implicit character depiction of Wah Dee himself.
The thing that differs AMOR from movie alike is the chemistry that was too well built between characters, and on top of all is the beautiful score and unforgettable soundtrack(by the remarkable HK band Beyond and Shirley Yuen), which were perfectly fit into each scene. Andy himself never look better and perfectly match the character of a prince charming figure on a 500cc racing motor-bike, with his heart-robbing eye glance, charismatic and intriguing good-looking, in my opinion is those of very rare to be leveled even after decades. Jacklyn herself who portrays an innocent young girl in love is truly convincing both by her looks and demeanor. In short way : Perfect casts! And despite the seeming a little aged action scenes and some lines, it still delivers a powerful gesture all the way.
In conclusion, for those who are already familiar with classic 90's Hong Kong cinema, AMOR has placed itself as unforgettable cinematic experience, type of cult which you grew up with, and for those who are still unfamiliar, AMOR would be a fine introductory.
-Very Highly Recommended-
Traumatic movie experience
'The Untold Story aka Human Meat Roast Pork Buns'
I first had a chance to watch this movie when I was a kid about 13 years of age in my junior high, believe it or not this movie was widely spoken at that time in the place where I live (Medan,Indonesia), of course considering the graphical content and nudity of the movie, I only have the chance to watch it together with several buddies while nobody's attending home. What happened was...one of my mate dispersed halfway the movie, as for me, after watching it, I feel terribly remorse within because it haunted me day after day for long enough than I could remember, especially that Wong figure make me really sick and guts out.
Last Sunday, 24th August 2008, after 15 year I have another chance to watch this movie again. It's much different this time, kinda nostalgic and I found the scenes more bearable compare to watching it in the older day, but still I prepare extra guts and it still portrays a very horrifying and disturbing scenes even compared to modern Hollywood gory/slasher flick like 'Saw' and 'Hostel' alike. So it was fair to say that one should never claim to have watched 'the most' gory or terrifying film in modern cinema before ever taste a chunk of this Hong Kong classic cinematic horror.
I wouldn't go so far to say that this movie is great, but I can point out few points that distinguish 'The Untold Story' from movie alike:
1.The acting of the lead (Anthony Wong) is unbelievable brilliant, as the bun man , only by the evil look of his eyes you could tell how vicious and mean he is. And he really deserved to be the only lead actor from CAT III Hong Kong movie to ever win the best actor category in Hong Kong Film Award history.
2. The dark and merciless scenes contain of extreme graphic violence subject to children, the sadistic method of killing and diabolical suicide attempt, police and cell brutality, etc, all those scenes are somehow cross the line, thank God there's some crunchy humor poured onto the film. Well, some silly humor wouldn't do any harm in such a dark material.
3. The originality of the movie's theme itself has become like a trend-setter at Hong Kong cat III film industry at that time, many of which trailed the very same theme despite of the controversy, and the movie itself later spawned its sequel of The Untold Story II and III respectively, of which none has the quality equal or even close to the original.
4. This is one of the movie despite explaining everything in the title and poster still make you feel like watching it, under the account of curiosity.
As a matter of fact I wouldn't ever recommend such a disturbing movie to anyone, but for those who like to test the limit of tolerance, well this one is surely worth a notice. Strongly not recommended for age below 17, based on what I experienced...