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312 reviews in total 
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Well-executed and twisted spy movie with a little lack of originality, 2 November 2014

''The Suspect'' is a South Korean action-thriller in the vein of several contemporary spy movies like ''The Berlin File''. The movie tells the story of a North Korean defector who has once been a top special forces agent. After years of loyal service to his country, he became the victim of a conspiracy and purge. While the defector was able to make it to South Korea, his wife and young daughter were killed. Filled with grief and anger, the defector is now working as a chauffeur for a warm-hearted chairman who wants to help the North Korean people by developing a chemical product that could improve agriculture and prevent future famines. One day before a crucial meeting in North Korea, the chairman gets assassinated by some obscure members of the South Korean intelligence service. The defector witnesses the crime and fights the assassins but he can't save his boss. The dying chairman though gives him his glasses which hide the formula for the chemical product. The defector gets now hunted by the South Korean intelligence service who accuse him for the murder of the chairman and want to get the formula. The manhunt is led by a tough colonel who wants to eliminate the defector at all costs but who soon realizes that his boss is hiding a sinister secret and that things are more complicated than they appear. With the help of an ambitious journalist, the defector wants to uncover the secret of the chairman's glasses, clear his name and fight the true murderers and also find the man who killed his family.

On the positive side of the movie, one gets a twisted and tension-filled story line. The movie is gripping and entertaining and never gets boring despite a running time of almost two hours and a half. The acting is solid and especially the defector, the colonel and the main villain are portrayed in authentic ways. The movie has some character development and spends enough time to add some depth by telling a few side-stories in form of flashbacks. The action scenes in the movie are of the highest quality and at least as good as similar contemporary Hollywood movies. One gets to see agile and yet brutal martial arts fighting scenes, brutal shootings and breathtaking car chases. Some of these scenes are unrealistic and over the top but they are definitely fun to watch. Despite all the action and brutality, the movies manages to keep a human core and comes around with a moving ending.

On the negative side, I must admit that this movie obviously picks up several ideas from past South Korean but also international spy flicks. The story line of the movie is not really original and several parts of the film are in fact quite predictable for genre fans. The script could have been more innovative in my opinion.

Despite this obvious flaw, genre fans should still watch this movie as it's among the better South Korean spy movies of the last years. It easily beats ''The Berlin File'' and is probably on one level with movies like ''New World'' but obviously less groundbreaking than ''Shiri''. For international fans, you will probably appreciate this movie if you liked the films of the Bourne franchise.

John Wick (2014)
1 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Switch your brains off and jump on this roller coaster ride, 31 October 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"John Wick" is another fast-paced and graphic revenge movie with some entertaining action and black humour, a fitting soundtrack and the usual stereotypical characters from the Russian mafia. When it comes to gripping revenge flicks, you should rather watch South Korean movies like the intense "The Man from Nowhere" which is twice as good as this film, "I Saw the Devil" which is probably one of the most brutal movies ever made, the emotionally heart-breaking "Blood Island", as well as the philosophical trilogy around "Sympathy for Mister Vengeance", "Oldboy" and "Lady Vengeance" if you are looking for some originality, depth and character development. "John Wick" is only a hollow entertainment for genre fans. If I wasn't a fan of this kind of movies, my rating would be much lower than it is.

The story is simple. John Wick was a hit-man working for the organized crime in New York City. He retired from his job and started a new life when he met the love of his life. Roughly four years later, John Wick loses his wife to cancer. He receives a posthumous gift from her in form of a puppy with a letter from his wife saying that she is gone and that John Wick should cope with her demise by loving the dog. Coincidentally, he encounters the son of his old boss who doesn't know him. The young Russian mafioso wants to purchase John Wick's vintage '69 Mustang but the grieving man refuses. A few hours later, the Russian mafioso breaks into John Wick's house without any problems as there seems to be no alarm system at all. With a few friends, the young criminal kills John Wick's beloved puppy, steals his car and is bright enough to take off his hood to show his face so John Wick surely knows who he is. The victim survives and goes on to kill around eighty criminals in the next ninety minutes of the movie. Of course, killing the naive culprit is not enough, he also kills his partners, colleagues, bodyguards, his old boss and a few guys in a church. In the end, everybody but John Wick is dead and he goes to the next veterinary hospital, walks off with a new dog and goes home as if nothing ever happened.

This story is so bad that it could have been written by a twelve-year old. First of all, there are too many coincidences concerning the encounter with the Russian criminals who want to steel John Wick's car. In the entire movie, everybody is talking about John Wick's incredible reputation and everybody knows him wherever he goes but the son of the most influent criminal is the only one who has never heard of him. It's not credible that a smart hit-man doesn't have any alarm system to protect his home. One can understand that the killing of the puppy his wife gave to him really hurts John Wick but taking this event to justify eighty or more murders is not credible at all. In the entire movie, there is no police or anything despite all the shootings in downtown New York City. All of John Wick's enemies are extremely stupid, unexperienced and wooden. Even thirty men in one building can't manage to fight him. I could go on for hours as this movie is filled with so many coincidences, plot holes and unrealistic scenes that it's amusing. If you tell me know that the story doesn't matter in a revenge action movie, just watch any of the movies mentioned in the introduction that prove that even the grisliest revenge thriller can have some depth. Even "The Raid" franchise is more realistic and has better plots. "John Wick" rather feels like a simplistic ego-shooter for video game consoles than an actual movie. I must though admit that the last Splinter Cell games had better story lines than this film.

Another thing that feels out of place is the fact that fifty-year old Keanu Reeves is playing the unbeatable hit-man. The fighting scenes are somewhat wooden but he still manages to fight off his enemies because their acting is even slower. On the other side, Keanu Reeves also has a certain charisma to fit this role. Fifty-nine year old Willem Dafoe as veteran hit-man who has to kill John Wick is also a questionable choice in my opinion. Still, he is a respectable actor and has charisma. The most annoying thing is the fact that the evil guys are Russians again but that they are portrayed by actors from all around the world like England, Sweden and even Switzerland - except Russia. One can feel that these are wannabe Hollywood Russians and not real Russians.

You may now ask yourself why I still gave a favourable rating to this flick. It's actually simple. This movie never gets boring. The action scenes are sometimes wooden but most of them are just shootings so it doesn't really matter. These scenes are well directed and include no annoying shaky cameras or overloaded special effects. The settings of the movie are well chosen and vary from dirty chop shops over elegant bath houses to Orthodox churches. There are a few memorable lines in this film as in many other action movies. Some graphic content is related to some dark and dry humour which made the whole thing easier to digest. I actually liked this combination of contradictory extremes and had to laugh quite a few times during the movie. The soundtrack of the movie is also enjoyable and fitting. For genre fans, there are enough entertaining and well-executed elements to enjoy this movie despite its obvious flaws.

If you are looking for some fast-paced and superficial entertainment to switch your brains off, you will like "John Wick". If you are actually looking for a good movie that has more to offer than stylish violence, go for the movies mentioned in the introduction.

Annabelle (2014)
6 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Professionally executed above average horror movie but not a genre-defining modern highlight, 13 October 2014

"Annabelle" certainly doesn't reinvent the horror genre but it's still an atmospheric, diversified and gripping movie that quickly grabs your attention and will haunt you until the very end. This movie has a better pace and no dull moments compared to "The Conjuring" but it's not as intense and scary as "Insidious" for example.

I like the fact that the movie includes a little bit more than the usual supernatural elements. When the satanic cult members assassinate an old couple and attack the two main actors, the movie quickly starts to be really gripping. When a fire breaks out and menaces the pregnant main actress, most viewers were also on the edges of their seats. The haunting scene leading to and involving a stroller smashed by a truck is also very intense. It's a good thing that the entire movie doesn't only play at one location and only involves supernatural phenomenons.

"Annabelle" convinces with its steadily growing sinister atmosphere, a credible acting performance, a solid camera work without any unnecessary shaking, fitting sound effects and an atmospheric soundtrack. This movie includes almost no blood and gore effects and no obvious special effects. These elements make the scenario feel closer to some classic pioneer movies of the seventies. The realistic tone of the film also makes the movie more intense and easier to get into for most people.

Even though the movie avoided a few stereotypes such as an exorcism, some parts were still highly predictable: the scared housewife nobody believes in, the wicked demon trying to take possession of a child's innocent soul and the heroic actions of an old pastor attempting to save a young family and community members are elements that horror movie fans have seen numerous times before. That's why the movie lacked some originality and ultimately tension towards the end as the ending was also quite predictable.

Fans of traditional horror movies or more recent outputs by James Wan and his colleagues should watch this movie at the cinema as they are likely to enjoy this film. This movie isn't the best of the year but still a professionally executed and highly above average horror flick. I still hope that the next movies made by the makers of the last few horror blockbusters are going to write a more courageous script for their next project.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Traditional elements overrun by modern effects in a fast-paced but hollow fun ride, 3 September 2014

"Di Renjie: Shen Du Long Wang" or "Young Detective Dee: Rise Of The Sea Dragon" is a prequel to "Detective Dee And The Mystery Of The Dragon Flame". It takes place in the beginning years of Tang Dynasty under the reign of the weak Emperor Gaozong and just a few years before his cruel wife Wu Zetian would take his position and declare the second Zhou dynasty for fifteen years. This second movie shows us a young detective who arrives at the imperial city and has to face a lot of adversary, jealousy and mistrust. The case itself features two different story lines. First of all, there is a giant sea monster controlled by a mysterious enemy that attacks the imperial fleet. The other story features the beautiful courtesan Yin who is about to be sacrificed in order to appease the Gods and therefor the sea monster but who gets first kidnapped by a gang of thieves and later on by a strange human lizard creature. Both stories are loosely bound together and lead the detective and his new colleagues and friends to an adventurous mission on Bat Island.

If you liked the first movie of the franchise, my guess is that you will also appreciate the sequel. It's really a matter of nuance if you prefer the first or the second movie as both pretty much have the same flaws and strengths. Just as the first instalment, the sequel convinces with elegant and typically exaggerated fighting scenes in Tsui Hark's unique signature style that goes back to classic Hongkong movies of the late eighties and early nineties like "A Chinese Ghost Story" or "Once Upon A Time In China". I must admit that the over-the-top fighting scenes on the ships towards the end of the movie are probably the most impressive sequences of both movies.

The modern elements can be found in several decent CGI effects for the monsters in this movie as well as during the destruction of the fleet and the showdown on and around Bat Island. I must admit that I thought that some of these modern elements did not fit to the historical settings which are colourful and beautiful to watch but not always authentic. It's simply strange to see ultra-modern visual elements in a movie that takes place in the seventh century. I prefer the more limited but authentic settings of more traditional Hongkong movies.

While the first movie had some more investigative elements, the sequel only features a couple of these. Detective Dee surely passes as a smart person and some of his investigative methods are still really impressive. Sadly, the movie quickly reveals friends and foes which means that there aren't any real mysteries to solve. The only element I would have liked to know isn't really answered after all. We don't get to know how the sea monster was created and how comes that it sometimes obeys the villains and sometimes it doesn't.

As for the acting, the leading actors do an average job as some of them lack depth. Angela Yeung is simply a good-looking woman in love with a poet, that's it. The makers of the movie could have chosen any of the many good-looking Chinese actresses as Angela Young's character lacks uniqueness and feels like a hollow puppet to me. The jealous chief minister portrayed by Feng Shaofeng, the young prison doctor played by Lin Gengxin as well as Detective Dee himself who is now portrayed by Taiwanese-Canadian actor Mark Chao instead of Hongkong actor Andy Lau who was a little bit more charming in my opinion, all have interesting characteristics but remain somewhat superficial. Instead of focusing on special effects, the makers of the movie should have worked a little bit more on the character development.

This sequel is a colourful, effect-ridden, fast-paced movie that doesn't fail to entertain and which includes a few impressive investigative methods, beautiful settings and stunning fighting scenes. On the other side, the story is much simpler than in the first film and the actors are mostly exchangeable or stereotypical as in the case of the crazy doctor for example. Fans of modern Hongkong cinema and historical fiction where traditional elements are overrun by modern effects will like this movie. Everyone else is invited to watch this fun ride once but more sophisticated viewers will probably forget about this film pretty soon. I still think that the concept behind this franchise has some potential and hope that there will be a third movie and that's why I'm willing to rate this film seven points instead of only six.

6 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
This blockbuster brings back the magic of the brilliant original, 28 August 2014

The first "Sin City" was a revolutionary movie in my opinion in terms of its comic book style, violent film noir atmosphere and intriguing storytelling involving switches between several plot lines that were loosely bound together. While many mediocre American movies quickly got many unnecessary sequels, one of the very best Hollywood films of the past ten years had to wait more than nine years for its second strike to be released. This is also the reason for the rather disappointing sales figures as many younger fans of the original have grown older and forgotten about the first part, younger audiences might not have heard about the excellent original yet and worn-out superhero movies in the key of "Guardians Of The Galaxy" as well as the wave of exchangeable dystopian teenage flicks like "Divergent" are what younger audiences prefer to watch these days.

Let me tell you that these people are missing out on a highly atmospheric, breathtaking and stylistic follow-up that brings back the magic of the original and only fails to beat it because this movie is slightly shorter and the four stories told in here are a little bit less original than the four ones told nine and a half years earlier. This being said, it would be a wise choice to watch the first movie again before you get to see its sequel because the new film refers to several events that have happened before in Sin City.

The style and spirit of the movie has been copied many times after its original release in rather similar flicks like "V for Vendetta" (2006), "Max Payne" (2008) and "The Spirit" (2008) which just proves how influencing the original was. That's why the sequel feels a little bit like one has seen similar stuff before but let's not forget that this franchise is the one that started this whole unique extravagant comic book style. If you like the aforementioned movies, you will also adore this movie that is hold in classic black and white with a few colourful parts here and there that make stand out certain body parts or objects. I'm still fascinated by this classic and yet revolutionary way to design a movie. The sinister and often sarcastic stories, the excellent soundtrack and the bleak characters that all have their dark sides add much to the gripping atmosphere of the movie. Especially the actors are doing an outstanding job in this movie. Mickey Rourke convinces as brutal yet charming outlaw, Josh Brolin excels as broken man with a raw appearance but a soft core who definitely makes me forget that his character was performed by Clive Owen in the first film, Powers Boothe delivers as antisocial, corrupt and pitiless politician and Eva Green perfectly portrays the sexy yet evil miss misery. Even the secondary characters like the suicidal Jessica Alba, the silent beauty and elegant killing machine Jamie Chung or the short role of Bruce Willis as a desperate ghost or guardian angel can entirely convince. The cameos of Lady Gaga and other famous people are also a nice addition to this film. The clash of all these characters leads to many brutal yet artistic fight scenes where the blood is flowing, explicit but honestly passionate dialogues take place and several scenes including explicit yet elegant nudity are shown. This is a highly entertaining mixture including lots of black humour and sarcasm, tons of over-the-top action sequences, some moments filled with extreme emotions and a solid base of tension and a high dose of sex appeal. Weak or conservative minds as well as young children should therefor definitely avoid this movie.

In the end, if you liked the original "Sin City", you will also like its high above average but not classic sequel "Sin City: A Dame To Kill For". If you haven't watched these movie, you have definitely missed out on two of the most atmospheric, original and vivid Hollywood movies of the past ten years. Go and correct your mistakes of the past now. Along with the experimental crazy ride filled with star actors that was Luc Besson's "Lucy", this is by far the best movie of the not-so-young year 2014 for me. This is the only current movie franchise I definitely want to carry on, no matter if the majority misjudges this excellent movie and prefers to watch its trendy fast-food cinema. This kind of art isn't for everyone and this is what makes this so unique.

5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Still cool and gripping but the weakest part of the franchise so far, 17 August 2014

The third part of The Expandables is another explosive action movie with interesting cameo appearances by cult actors such as Harrison Ford, Jet Li and Arnold Schwarzenegger and a bunch of old action heroes like Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes and Mel Gibson as well as a younger generation of action stars such as Kellan Lutz, Victor Ortiz and Ronda Rousey.

The most interesting actors in the movie are Antonio Banderas who plays the clown and comes around with a few amusing slapstick gags, Wesley Snipes who plays in a very emotional and almost schizophrenic manner where he quickly turns from being ridiculous to menacing and back again and Mel Gibson who portrays a clever, cold-hearted and unpredictable villain.

Some other actors have less screen time than usual and can't always convince. I would have liked to see more of Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren and Jason Statham. Instead, the new movie introduces a younger team of Expandables but these new actors like Kelsey Grammar, Kellan Lutz, Victor Ortiz and Ronda Rousey simply don't have the charisma and talent of the old generation and feel rather exchangeable. The idea to reinvent the franchise and feature a younger cast was promising but the final result is below expectations. There are far more charismatic action stars like the younger John Cena, Tony Jaa, Li Bingbing and Iko Uwais or even the older Josh Brolin, Mark Dacascos, Liam Neeson and Keanu Reeves for example but these issues have already been discussed before.

The story of this movie isn't as generic as the one of the first movie but not as diversified and dramatic as the plot of the second movie. I feel that the story is overall too similar to the second film who remains the best of the franchise to really come close to it. The Expandables 3 is still an entertaining action blockbuster but clearly the weakest of the three movies.

On the positive side, the locations in the movie have become more exotic and beautiful and take place in different parts of the United States of America, Russia and Somalia among others. The setting, camera, sound and special effects are top notch. On the negative side, I'm aware of the fact that this movie isn't supposed to be realistic at all but some scenes felt so forced and unreal that it was unintentionally hilarious like the part when the motorboat in the port of Mogadishu managed to perfectly jump upon the back of a driving truck. This wasn't the case in the first two instalments in my opinion.

In the end, this is a good movie if you feel like switching your brains off, getting a fast-paced entertainment and seeing many famous actors in the same movie. While the film is still solid, it's definitely the weakest release of the franchise and the seven out of ten points I'm giving here are maybe a little bit generous. Still, action movie fans can't obviously get around this movie as there are way too many gripping action sequences and cool actors around.

Lucy (2014/I)
22 out of 46 people found the following review useful:
Three gifted main actors, an incredible director and stunning visual effects lead us through a thought-provoking story where science and fiction collide in equal parts, 13 August 2014

Lucy could easily be the best film of the year and should attract a lot more cinephiles to the movie theatres than it already does. The movie has many different strengths, differs from similar films and feels fresh and entertaining despite a more philosophical and scientific approach.

First of all, the movie has a running time of ninety minutes only. The viewer is immediately thrown into a story filled with pace and tension. This films simply doesn't include any unnecessary lengths.

The acting performances in this film are completely incredibly. Scarlett Johansson starts as a naive and shy lady that slowly becomes a clever heroine in a credible manner. Her character doesn't include the usual weaknesses of so-called superheroes. She doesn't talk too much, she only uses her powers when she has to and is still quite impressive and there is no cheesy love story or a demon from her past to distract us from the main plot. Morgan Freeman only has a smaller role in this movie but he simply convinces for being there because he is credible in his role as a clever scientist and has a lot of charisma. The ruthless main villain is portrayed by the incredible Choi Min-Sik who is one of my favourite actors ever and it's great to finally see him in a Western movie where his incredible talents get some more attention. This may not be his greatest performance but this man has a talent and history for playing dark characters.

The story of the movie is another strong point. It's not your usual tale of crime and vengeance. The film has a rather profound philosophical and scientific side and takes its time to explain what is actually going on without boring the audience. Many viewers felt let down by the ending of the movie but in relation to the entire film, it completely makes sense. The movie doesn't only convince with gifted actors and addicting action sequences but also offers some real food for thought.

The visual effects of the movie exploit all contemporary technologies extremely well. I was stunned by many impressive images from animal and nature sequences over animated pictures of the human body up to modern images with different rays and colours. These effects make the movie even more enjoyable in a cinema.

The rest of the movie is very well executed as well. There are no annoying shaky camera passages, the soundtrack is very fitting and the whole movie has an intriguing multicultural touch as it takes place in Taiwan and France and involves actors and characters from many different countries. The fact that the Korean actors only speak Korean might be annoying for some viewers but it makes the experience even more realistic. Just as Scarlett Johansson's character in the beginning, the viewer doesn't always understand what is going on when the Korean characters are talking and this adds even more tension to the plot and is a great element that is more and more employed in commercial movies as well.

Lucy may not reinvent a whole genre but this science-fiction movie focuses on the best elements of science and a really gripping fiction. If you only like slow-paced dramas or comedy movies for the whole family, this movie isn't for you but anyone else should absolutely watch this film as soon as possible. There are still some interesting movies to come out this year but so far, this film is a more than solid candidate for the greatest movie of the year and you really don't want to miss it.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Entirely entertaining despite a weak story and several plot holes, 10 August 2014

"Snowpiercer" is quite a mixed bag. On the positive side, it features stunning decorations, graphics and locations as well as great fighting scenes and special effects and finally a gripping dark atmosphere from the beginning to the end. The different sections in the train, the winter landscapes and the different kinds of battles with bare hands and feet, knives and swords or guns keep the pace of this movie elevated.

On the negative side, the story itself is quite simplistic and copied from many other dystopian movies and literature but what truly bothers me are several obvious plot holes. There is a minimal twist towards the end of the movie but after all the final moments of this film are rather disappointing.

Some parts of the movie have an interesting potential such as the different characters. The actors play very well but some things about their characters are left unexplained. That's why many of them remain somewhat superficial as if they were made up by naive teenagers. While the different characters are intriguing on their own, they fail to develop a more profound chemistry between each other. Chris Evans and Song Kang-Ho are both great actors but they don't fit together as a team of leading characters. It's a little bit the same mismatch between the inhuman killer portrayed by Vlad Ivanov and the mysterious teenager played by Go Ah-Sung. I guess that a better script and an additional thirty minutes of running time to work on some character development would have rated this movie up.

In the end, I was very well entertained by this movie from the beginning to the end despite its notable flaws. The art direction, the brilliant main director and the overall dystopian atmosphere are the movie's strongest points. If you care for dystopian movies filled with action and tension, I can recommend this film to you. If you are looking for something more profound and innovating, you have to look elsewhere.

0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Emotional majesty in one of the top three Chinese movies of the last ten years, 9 August 2014

The Chinese action-drama "The White Storm" took me completely by surprised and I consider it even as the best movie of the year 2013. It's an emotional and almost epic movie about anger, betrayal, despair, forgiveness, friendship, loneliness, loss, love, regret and revenge.

Almost all elements convinced me in these two hours and twenty minutes. First of all, there is the story that comes around with moments of tension and action but there are also calmer and even philosophical passages. The film has one major twist and several more original ideas but the whole thing always remains realistic enough to convince and never gets boring either.

The acting in this movie is simply brilliant. The three main actors Ching Wan Lau, Louis Koo and Nick Cheung portray three unique and despair-ridden characters that perfectly complement each other. As a viewer you really care about this characters but as this is no Hollywood movie, don't expect a complete happy end.

Despite a gripping plot around drug dealing issues in beautiful locations in China and Thailand among others, great chasing, martial arts and shooting sequences and flawless images, sounds and words, it's especially the emotional content of the movie that made this film not only a very good but an excellent movie. There were many sad but still a few hopeful moments in this movies that got me extremely close to crying which very rarely happens to me in movies.

If you are a fan of Hongkong action cinema of the past three decades, intense thrillers with a few twists and credible dramas with gripping characters and touching dialogues, you must watch this movie. This is more than just a highly entertaining and modern movie. Don't be surprised to still think for several days about this film and to have a few tears in your eyes. If we consider the touching biopic "Mao's Last Dancer" from 2009 as Australian movie, then this here is by far the best Chinese film since Jet Li's "Fearless" in 2006.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Philosophical drama dialogues meet a brutal action-thriller ride, 24 July 2014

"Wara no Tate" or "Shield of Straw" is a Japanese action-thriller and drama based on a novel by Kiuchi Kazuhiro. This movie convinces with a balanced mixture of brutal and gripping action sequences on one side and philosophical discussions on the other. It tells the intriguing tale of a disgusting psychopath who needs an ambitious police escort to get transported from a rural town to the capital Tokyo where he should be sentenced by a public prosecutor. The grand-father of the psychopath's latest victim, who is terminally ill with a heart disease, wants the man to get killed at all costs. He bribes editors and reporters to announce that the billionaire is willing to offer one billion yen to anyone who would kill the psychopath and then turn her- or himself in to the police and prosecutor to get judged for her or his actions. The vengeful billionaire goes even further and bribes criminals, nurses and even police officers to get the psychopath killed. Five courageous police officers get the dangerous job to get the psychopath to Tokyo via transporters, trains and even cars as they have to face one hundred twenty-five Million potential opponents. Soon, their conscience come into play. Is it worth to risk your lives to save a monster that is probably going to get sentenced to death anyway? Are their accuracy, honour and sense of responsibility strong enough to bring their job to an end? And is there even a traitor within the small group who wants to get the Money and help the billionaire to get his worst enemy killed? "Wara no Tate" is not only an entertaining but also thought-provoking piece of art that works very well despite a few minor lengths during a running time of over two hours. The question the viewer is constantly asking her- or himself is: Would I hand the psychopath over to the prosecutor or would I kill him, get the hefty reward and go to jail? This movie is clearly above average not only due to its balanced mixture of profound dramatic elements and vivid action sequences but also due to many excellent actors. From the honest police officers and the scary psychopath over the sick and grieving old man and many potential headhunters, every single actress and actor does an excellent job no matter if his or her screening time is about two hours or just two minutes. The different characters are profound, diversified and credible and many of them develop in an interesting way throughout the movie. The greatest actresses and actors are the intelligent female cop and single mother portrayed by Matsushima Nanako, the desperate and lonely police officer with a strong will portrayed by Ohsawa Takao and especially the wicked psychopath portrayed by Fujiwara Tatsuya. The psychopath gets more and more evil as the movie progresses and especially the last sequences show us the abyss of the human soul. On my list of the most evil characters in cinema, I would place him third just behind the sinister serial killer Kyung-chul portrayed by Choi Min-sik in the Korean psycho-thriller "I Saw The Devil" and the evil spirit Bob portrayed by Frank Silva in the "Twin Peaks" series and movie.

Apart of the balanced storyline and the acting performances, Japanese cult director Miike Takashi did one of his most memorable works in recent years. The images, setting and special effects are well employed and feel real and spontaneous yet wisely arranged and chosen. There are neither shaky camera passages as in many Hollywood movies nor an overload of predictable and stereotypical visual effects. Miike proves once again that he is one of the best current directors and he took advantage of a decent budget and excellent cinematographers involved in this project.

The only reasons why somebody could not like this movie is because of its mixture of philosophical dialogues and grisly action sequences. Action fans might get bored by the dialogues while fans of more sophisticated dramas might find the movie too repugnant for its violent content. Any open-minded cinephile with a soft spot for Japanese extremes should though watch this high-quality movie that gets easily in my top twenty of the best movies of the year. It's a shame that there were only three people in the cinema when I watched this film as this movie is definitely better than many of the exchangeable Hollywood sequels where you exactly know what to expect.

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