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Outrageous Fortune (2005)
Heck of a ride...
So, just watched the series finale. As an American it was experience. Not much in the ways of culture shock, there was a bit, but the ride itself, with the characters and their lives and loves, was amazing.
There are highs and lows, both emotionally and regards to quality, but all said and done, it was worth it. You love these characters. You love these actors. You feel what they go through. It was something I have looked forward to every week for all these years, and looking beyond what it can do to you personally, it really is a good show.
It is a worthy show.
Best hours of television for me in such a long time. I'm glad I saw it, it gave back to its audience. The show was choice, and let me leave it at that.
Niu kou ren (2008)
Not life changing, but worth a watch.
This is a very low key, low budget, crime thriller that has Francis Ng. That's all you need to know. Really.
It is well acted enough, some parts were rough, but more likely because they were underwritten. The script could have had more substance as it plays out like a television drama pilot instead of a film. It is only 80 minutes when it really could have been two full hours. There was some substance in the story, but it isn't fully developed, so watching for the story isn't a great idea, like most genre flicks. However, despite this, the story does play out rather well. The movie does have a great climax, but not really much build up before hand.
There were some really great looking shots, and if one can except that there are production limitations, the value of the movie goes up, and it is visible how impressive it actually is.
It is a solid crime thriller when there aren't many around, and as such, if you are in the mood for one, it is worth your time.
FB: Fighting Beat (2007)
Rather remarkable really, worth watching if watched with perspective...
I enjoyed this movie, partially because of its length, and partially because of just a lot being extremely right with this film. Firstly some perspective, the film seems to be made for teenagers and/or early twenty-somethings. It is extremely dumbed down and the bulk of it is quite superficial. It has almost the exact formula of a bad slasher movie but just with kicks to the face. I believe any negative reviews will likely fail to acknowledge that they are not in the right mindset or not the right audience.
The story is straightforward; foreigners decide to buy the bar the main characters work at and use force when they are refused. It's just at about 80min. so that really is just enough story frankly. Despite that being the main plot, there is a subplot, and this is the best part of the film, about the main character dealing with his father's death and ultimately meeting his killer(and of course fighting) again.
The significance of this is that the move has the theme of learning to deal with the consequences of one's actions, and always being in the state of mind where right choices can be made. This crops up several times in the story and had this been a straight two hour drama, this would've probably been the weightiest martial arts movie in recent film history.
On the technical side, there is practically no budget and very little script. The actors do a fine job at acting, but there just isn't much acting to do, so everyone wears as little clothing as possible. Everyone.
The movie could've been a little subtler with the music, as many of the accompanying shots were dramatic and impressive. This was an extremely well shot movie in places. Fight choreography was fantastic. The fights tended to be balanced with both parties getting equally injured and lots of tension in the fights.
The movie is an odd mix of two distinct approaches, and while I would have preferred a straight drama as I think it would've be great at it, I can't fault it for being what it is, and it is what is very well. This movie is well worth the eighty minutes.
Great film about finding what you need...
This is a self-exploration film disguised as a love story. Two people whom aren't necessarily in great places in their lives fall in love with each other and find comfort in that in each other's company their problems don't exist. However, this doesn't stop them from having to face them. This is really one of those it's the journey not the ending that matter type of movie.
The acting is good if not great, same for the direction. The writing was spot on, and didn't say more than it needed to say. I don't think there was an unnecessary bit of information in the story or dialog. Music was good as well.
All in all, this was a well paced emotionally involving drama that is rewarding to the viewer in the end.
Sailap jap baan lek (2007)
Not life changing, but a decent diversion or date movie.
The movie is about Jawk a brilliant inventor who spends his time as a detective to catches cheating husband and their mistresses in the act to pay the bills. Along the way he gets caught up personally in one case, and as par the course hilarity ensues. Somewhat.
The movie is a romantic comedy, and a derivative one at that, so your enjoyment may vary. Despite having seen most of the jokes in other movies, there were still quite a few funny bits that help it stay entertaining. The acting and direction are fine, even though the writing is a bit fluffy and uneven.
It is an inoffensive movie, and well made, just not the best in the world. That's fine though, and if you are in the mood for a dopey romantic comedy with photogenic actors, give it a shot.
A great story about finding what you need if you just look...
This is a hard movie to rate because it is very different than the usual fair. It isn't art-house, it isn't commercial, it isn't really a drama and despite the humor it isn't a romantic comedy. Asako is the story of many people, but primarily two people who are unable to find something or someone that makes them feel complete and how they handle and struggle with the emptiness they feel.
The acting is great, and despite it being on the long side and somewhat slow moving, the pacing is rather good, even great. The usage of the metaphor of the Ruby Shoes, which can easily be interpreted as a reference to the Wizard of Oz is great as it is a persistent reminder of what the story is about. Finding what you want and going for it.
This was a truly enjoyable and gratifying film.
A Great Addition to the series
Episode Final is an alternate continuity ending to Kamen Rider Ryuki in the vein of the Kamen Rider Faiz or Blade movies, and it is similarly dramatic and epic. At a solid hour and a half there is a well developed plot, and a surprising amount of character development and progression. Every character gets at least one scene that alludes to how they could end up.
If you are a fan of the series or the modern Rider series then you'll know what to expect. It takes place following episode 44-46 so that must be taken into account, and watching it early may spoil things.
It is a great movies with a focus on drama, some great action scenes, and some really awesome Agito cameos. It is a don't miss for sure.
Jeul-geo-woon in-saeng (2007)
Easily one of the best movies I've ever seen, easily.
The Happy Life is a music film, and if you like Rock then you're likely to like this. The music was very, very, very good. Everything about the movie was faultless actually, which makes writing anything about it hard.
Some notes, it is directed like many modern Korean movies, down to the slow motion at the final scene, so you will likely be reminded that this is a commercial movie, but man it is a good one. The story is straight forward: Unhappy men reform band as apart of a mid-life crisis, old member's son joins. Simple! The characters are well developed, all likable, and at the end it is really just about knowing your dreams and being empowered enough to follow them.
Hua chi le na nv hai (2008)
Not seeing it doesn't mean you're missing anything
There isn't much to say. This movie is a pseudo-lesbian themed movie that is well acted and directed, but beyond that has practically no substance.
Divided into four stories without any real connecting theme or element, it seems to deprive the viewer of any gratification that other similar movies provide. This is not to say it isn't without any merit. All the actors do a good job, especially Sandrine Pinna and Karena Lam, despite either of them not really having much to do. The final story is the well directed, but it is also possibly the most hollow. Likewise, the pacing and scenery is good, same for most of the music and sound.
The only real complaint, is just after watching it you don't come away with anything substantial and maybe entertaining. That is a pretty big complaint.
Ai him yan muk (2007)
Better than expected...
The movie is a straight forward, low-to-no budget crime drama about an ex-undercover officer and his life after he is removed from service and outed. It is very straight forward. At under an hour and a half it can't afford not to be.
Everything to make the film enjoyable is there. The direction/cinematography is solid, very good in places. The acting is good, everyone plays their parts, though most characters are very underwritten. Actually, the entire movie is underwritten. It could have easily been thirty minutes longer and fleshed out things more. The film as is hits the ground running, and doesn't really have much buildup nor a satisfying climax.
The film was enjoyable nonetheless, and it is so short that it makes a good distraction if anything else.
A-nae-ga kyeol-hon-haet-da (2008)
Probably not missing anything...
Frankly, if you give this one a miss, your world won't end. The thing with this movie is that it has a good premise, but due to some odd pacing, script and character development issues, and some thrown in and disposable themes, it doesn't quite seem to hit the mark. Also, it just tries too hard.
All this is not to say that there isn't anything good about the movie. The direction was fine, the acting and casting were easily the strongest parts of the film, and it didn't feel overlong or overshort. However, these are technical merits that one should really expect from a modern movie, especially a South Korean one.
The movie doesn't quite seem to know what kind of film it wants to be until the end so if you have a bit of patience and curiosity, it may be worth a look, but don't expect too much beyond average.
Modeon boi (2008)
Very good, despite being a bit of a mess...
The movie was rather good. It is a love story, that is sometimes a noir-ish thriller, that has black humor, and is a period piece. All this makes it kind of muddled and it is all over the place most of the time. Secondary characters don't get developed very well and it could've used another forty minutes while trimming twenty or so from a few places.
Despite this it was acted well and has some good music. It was also solidly directed and had quite a bit of gloss. Pacing was pretty good most of the movie and the character parts were strong. It was a bit jingoistic, but that is to be expected, but maybe not condoned.
It was most definitely worth a watch, and it was a very easy watch to boot.
Dui bu qi wo ai ni (2009)
Money, Fate, Daydreaming, Love, and Strangers...A Must Watch.
It is hard to describe the movie. The plot is simple, Chie Tanaka, playing herself, meets Huai-chung Wu, whom I presume is playing himself, after she loses her wallet. From that point on, the rest of the movie is about two restless and unhappy people spending the day together, falling in love, and learning to relate to each other without caring that they were strangers that morning.
It wonderfully shot, and the pacing is just like many other modern Taiwanese movies. It is short, not even eighty minutes, which is good and bad. Emotional, and acted, if you can call it that considering, well. There really isn't anything bad about the movie, in fact I found it quite wonderful.
If you like these kind of sleepy movies purely about people relating to each other and living in the moments when that happens, then you should give it a shot.
Miao Miao (2008)
A Fluffy, Heavyhanded, but Watchable Diversion. You Could Do Much Worse.
I went into this movie not knowing anything about it, and I believe that that was in fact the best way, with no expectations. It has a lot going for it. The acting was good, and the actors themselves were likable. The plot, while simple, was solid, if not unique, and it had good, if not great pacing. it is a very Taiwanese movie, cinematically.
On the other hand, it is short, not even an hour and a half, when it could've had another twenty minutes, or forty if you removed a couple of the silly and extraneous parts. The film is also quite heavy handed in its homosexual themes which only hurts the story as the pseudo-homosexual relationships in the film are not functions of the plot nor contribute to it, but are repeatedly explicitly demonstrated. That is probably the most significant fault, a movie about relationships, focusing on gay relationships, where no one is explicitly gay, but just superficially interested in the same sex. Needless to say, it is a bit messy on that level.
It is cute, however, it is a love story that isn't really tragic, but in a way heartwarming. It is worth a watch, if only because it is still well made, and possibly entertaining.
Gogo chilship (2008)
Not Terrible, But Tries Too Hard.
The movie is hard to rate. I for one can't tell if there is some hidden Korean cultural context that I missed, or if that it was faking it. I am leaning towards the latter.
The movie is about a "soul band" in the seventies called "The Devils" and their existence in post war South Korea. You can in fact apply the formula that most band movies have to this movie. Without spoiling too much, it does have the standard things come full circle ending.
Possibly the biggest problem with the movie was the music. Used are various 60s/70s/pre-disco era American music, which is fine considering context, but the selections aren't great when couple with the singers, and the songs contribute nothing to the plot. In fact the entire setting is unnecessary, and could have easily taken place in modern day. This makes any importance that music had at that time in South Korea seem trivial and detaches the viewer from the experience of the film.
Acting was fine, if a little bit forced. The script wasn't great, but production was strong and direction was solid. The movie as a whole just didn't seem to come together very well.
Kei tung bou deui - Fo pun (2009)
A good movie, but pointless to watch unless you've seen the others...
There isn't much to say, it really is like the others, the same formula. Not to say it is a bad formula, it is the opposite, but if you've seen the others, which watching this is pointless if you haven't, then you don't even need a review.
Despite that, I think this is the best one. The acting was a little iffy with the guest actors, but the plot was very good, this time dealing with illegal immigration and racism, as well Maggie Siu's character and her development. Simon Yam is in here, but doesn't much, and while Lam Suet's character Fat Lo, is more connected to the plot and actually doing detective work, he is almost absent.
It is a good watch, and you may like others over this one. They all are different, and tackle different themes in different ways, which is one of the great strengths of this series.
Kei tung bou deui - Tung pou (2009)
Another good entry in the Tactical Unit series
There isn't much to say, other than this is the latest entry in the PTU based Tactical Unit series. The short version is, if you like one, you'll like the others.
The long version is that this is solidly acted, but maybe just a little subdued. The actors know their characters, and by this point, so do the regular viewers, so there are no discrepancies. All of the actors are in character, and the dialog follows suit. At this point, it really is just the main Trio of Simon Yam, Maggie Siu, and Lam Suet driving everything, which isn't a bad thing at all.
The story is good, if a little light, but PTU and Milkyway Productions in general, are straight forward, and become more about camera work, acting, and pacing, than story. Needless to say, everything technically is solid. Like the other entries, music is good, but almost non-existent.
All said and done, it is a good watch, and like most Johnnie To related productions, mostly review-proof.
Sonyeon, Cheonguk-e gada (2005)
Put this somewhere in the middle of the To Watch pile...
Not bad, not great. There were some incredibly cute or endearing moments, and the entire set up of a boy passing and returning to be with an older woman he fell in love is good.
However, for every humorous or emotional moment, there are two or more cheesy ones. The acting is solid, especially in the beginning, but the movie has a tendency to push the viewer in the direction it wants he or she to, and it retrospect, this is somewhat manipulative.
The movie is under two hours, and at parts its really slow, at parts it is too fast, especially when a couple of characters who could've used much more development are introduced.
It isn't a bad movie, but one can easily find better Korean Romantic-Comedy/Dramas. If you have tapped the genre then give this one a go, but beyond that, set this aside for another day.
Tenshi no tamago (2006)
Amazing and Beautiful movie.
The plot is a standard love triangle plot, firstly, but that isn't so much the focus in this movie. In much the same way as many of the Japan's non-glossy low key output, the characters are put into a situation and then are examined on how the arrived there and where they left. There are really only three main characters and maybe three other characters, so over the course of the near two hours the viewer has much opportunity to learn and understand their feelings and personalities.
The acting was good for a Japanese film, it doesn't use anyone extremely famous, but all were working actors, including a couple of recognizable background characters who appear on everywhere on television.
Music an sound were, but there wasn't much of it. The same goes for the direction, where pretty much every scene is uses a hand held cam, and the more emotional ones utilize close-ups.
Overall, it was a very enjoyable movie, and a worthwhile if not emotional watch and is very much recommended.
Kind of a mess, but a good watch if you are bored.
There isn't really much to say, it is a pretty standard early 2000s Korean comedy. If you like them, this is like most of them but sillier, if you're new to Korean movies or comedies in general than it could interesting, but only if you can't find better.
The plot is straight forward, the DA wants revenge on a drug baron for the death of his father who died in a comical way, hilarity of sorts ensues.
The acting is good, and the plot was interesting, but the pacing was messy and so was the script. Music and audio are a non-factor more or less.
While not a great movie, it is entertaining at parts and for this kind of movie that is all that matters.
A Good and Engrossing film that for most may be difficult to rate...
Most people will be watching this for Yun-jin Kim, who, like all the other actors in the film do an amazing job, but doesn't have much to do. Beyond that however, we have a well paced drama about two broken emotionally disaffected adults who find themselves searching for something with each other instead of themselves.
Beyond that, there isn't much of a plot, but this type of movie doesn't need an extremely complicated plot as it is purely about the relationships between characters and the results in their actions.
It may be difficult for most viewers to relate to any of the characters on screen, but it still doesn't detract from the quality of production, direction, script or acting. If anything it is a well made film, and like most movies it really is up to the viewer to take a chance and open themselves up to the experience the film provides.
Kei tung bou deui - Yan sing (2008)
Another solid story of loyalty and concequence in this entry of the Tactical Unit series
There is a little more action and a lot more Lam Suet in the entry in the PTU franchise. Without spoiling too much, his the vice ridden and somewhat boorish character of Tong finds himself against a loanshark, and being PTU, hijinks ensues.
As with all of the other entries, if you like the series, then you'll like this one, as they seem to be getting better, but if you don't like the films then you'd best stay away. Again, this is not much like PTU proper, but as each entry appears, they carve out a little bit more identity and differentiate themselves.
Good acting, solid writing, and even pacing, make this worth a watch if you find yourself even the least bit interested.
Fei yue qin hai (2003)
A contemplative, if haunting look into seeking love.
This is a hard movie to describe, if you like these types of movies, ones where its mostly conversation and characters struggling to express how they feel, then this could be for you. It is a very well made movie, with good acting and direction, and progresses well until maybe the last twenty minutes.
If you don't like these types of movies, don't watch, it will be slow, plodding and unfulfilling.
And if you don't normally watch movies that seek to be emotional and challenge the viewer to become involved, this may be worth a look if you have the opportunity, but you may enjoy something more suited to your language and culture if you aren't from Taiwan.
It's a good movie, but whether it is enjoyable depends on your mileage.
Kei tung bou deui - Juet lou (2008)
If You Want A Well Made Downer...
The Tactical Unit series continues, and quite possibly is getting better, if not more explicit. If you are familiar with the other films or PTU proper, then you know exactly what to expect. If you are unfamiliar with the series, then this, like the others, follows the a group of police officers in the city of Hong Kong and a certain series of events in which they get involved.
This entry is essentially devoid of any action, but is well directed. The acting is solid, and audio is transparent, bordering on non-existent. The story is good, and it is very well written, even though it leaves little screen time for the officers themselves, it does focus on a couple who live in the underbelly of the city and their tragic lives.
This is very good, likely not one for multiple watches, and not the best entry point for the Tactical Unit series, but it is as good of an entry as one could or should expect in a good series.
Kamen Raidâ Agito (2001)
As Good as It Gets...
There's not much one can say without spoiling anything, and this is probably the most complex and dense hero show one will have to opportunity to watch. Agito is a very story-centric supernatural mystery, one which action and characters generally taking a backseat, though not to a large degree. with that said, this is likely the most epic show of the variety, very reminiscent of Power Rangers: Time Force, but kicked up quite a few levels. The show is also targeted towards adults, especially in comparison to the recent rider franchises.
Action and production values are high, though it isn't as glossy as say Kamen Rider Faiz/555 was, it still avoids being visually dated. If anything, it's a modest show, and that dates it. There is no real flash, and it isn't needed.
If you ever have the opportunity to watch, it should be a pleasant surprise.