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Fist of Dragon (2011)
Comes the Dragon
Although a little disjointed between scenes, this movie will keep you on the edge of your seat right from the very beginning. If you are looking for a great martial arts choreographed movie this is one of them. Michael Chuah, the director and male lead, can give a good punch where it hurts.
One of my favorite fight sequences is towards the end with the ropes as the backdrop. It was pretty cool and well orchestrated. For comic relief Henry Thia provides quite a handful of them which makes the movie a little lighthearted against some bloody and brutal action.
I would have liked some of the emotional scenes to last a little bit longer but hey this is an action flick. And after such a great and tense finale I thought it wrapped up a little too quick, too soon for me to have something to savor.
The Smurfs (2011)
Because of the bad reviews I avoided watching this movie for a very long time until today when I just felt like 'smurfing' around.
It was better than I expected and quite entertaining too. If you have watched the TV series before this movie has a little more substance than the usual run around between Gargamel and the smurfs.
There are a few very familiar faces here especially with the success of some TV series. And it's a pleasure to see them playing roles other than what we know them to be.
Watch it without too much expectations and you may actually enjoy the banter, spoofs and self deprecation and have a smurfy time.
The Accidental Husband (2008)
It's a romantic comedy for God's Sake!
These days Hollywood is either going Kung Fu or Bollywood. This romantic comedy chooses the latter so here's another Holly Bolly hoo. Like it's predecessors The Guru, The Love Guru, Bride and Prejudice and even a wee bit of the Indian culture in Ghost World.
An outraged man Patrick Sullivan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) set himself out to teach the love counselor Dr. Emma Llyod (Uma Thurman) a lesson when she unknowingly influenced his fiancé to break up their wedding plans. But as you would have it, in the world of Hollywood romance they'd ultimately fall for each other despite the fact that the good doctor doesn't believe in the man of her dreams but the man of her reality and that she herself was about to be married. Colin Firth plays her beau but is lost in his wimpish, awkward world and it's nice to see the gorgeous and elegant Isabella Rosellini again with other veteran stars like Brookes Adams and Sam Shepard.
Morgan seems to be the guy who gets other people's girl in the end even in P.S. I Love You, I wonder what his third romantic comedy would be like. There's some elements of Down With Love but not enough to make it memorable.
You have to watch this movie with no expectations, no analytical mind and no preconceptions before you can enjoy the laughter and foolishness of being in love without reservations.
I really want to believe
What's there to believe? Really. The way it was promoted I thought there would be another mind blowing alien extravaganza with chills and spills and thrills. But it wasn't. But like some of the X-Files series, this is just another episode which deals with something more down to earth and gruesome. It reminds me so much of Ed Gein where his grisly lifestyle inspired numerous novels and movies, and he would have been a millionaire if they paid him his due royalties and rights.
On it's own, it's quite a compelling movie with the usual twists and turns but if it is taken as a sequel then it is not. The caption is somewhat misleading and doesn't serve the high expectation-anticipation of what it suggests though there's a faint understanding of it.
It begins with the abduction of an FBI agent which leads ASAC Dakota Whitney (Amanda Peet) to seek the help of Mulder (David Duchovny). An ex pedophile priest is having visions of the missing agent and soon leads them to a grave find of a human arm. The plot itself feels like a serial killing episode with paranormal activities attached to it, other than that Mulder and Scully are becoming quite tedious to watch, especially in their dramatic upheavals.
There is hardly any wow factor here although it's nice to see the team again. You might just forget you are actually watching a $30 million movie and sit back with the remote in your hand ready to flip the channel if the commercials came on.
I hope Chirs Carter makes the third and final trilogy because the next time round, I really want to believe.
Big Stan (2007)
You Gotta Love This Guy!
I love Rob Schneider. He is hilarious, he is pretty cool and he has heart, his movies I mean, and this is one of them. But physically he has also tuned up his muscles to play an unlikely role. It may not be his best but it's his directorial debut and it's something different from his previous movies. This time he has gone kung fu, actually so has the rest of the world of late.
Stanley (Rob Schneider) is imprisoned for fraud but is given six months of delay before his incarceration begins. During this period, out of fear of being raped in prison, he finds ways to help prepare himself to avoid the harrowing and torturous experience by making himself unrapeable.
Taking lessons from Master Cho (Simon Rhee, famed for his role in Best of the Best) Stan gets a good thrashing and kicked out when he wanted to handle more than he was able to. And then, out of the darkness, like some martial arts cliché , another master known as The Master (David Carradine of Kung Fu series fame) appears.
Like many of his other films, there is a heart warming and sweet message that makes the entire movie a wonderful journey. Schneider is rather good in showing off his kung fu skills in the fight scenes, quite a remarkable feat for a man known for his comedic roles. His mom, Pilar, also has a cameo appearance like she does in some of his other movies.
If you love Rob Schneider you'll love this. How can anyone not love a guy who was an animal, a gigolo, a teenage girl and an inmate who lived to tell about it?
Gone Baby Gone (2007)
This movie will make you rip your hair out
This movie will make you rip your hair out, will make you question right and wrong and will push you to the edge of what you have always known about values and principles. If you know Dennis Lehane's books, which it is based on, you will know what to expect. He wrote one of the most mesmerizing novels that also became a remarkable movie directed by Clint Eastwood called Mystic River. And two other stories of his Until Gwen and Shutter Island will be out sometime this year.
This movie is directed by Ben Affleck, yes the Ben Affleck, with the starring role given to his brother Casey. Although in his usual murmuring inaudibility, the younger Affleck gives the character role somewhat of a personality which is crucial to the movie, whether he did it intentionally or not.
A simple case of kidnapping launches a massive search for the child when P.I.s Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck) and Angie Gennaro (Michelle Monaghan) are engaged to find the missing kid. As the investigation goes deeper both of them discover more than what they expect to find. With twists and lies surmounting from witnesses and authorities, the truth gets grittier and darker with more revelation.
This is an impressive direction from Affleck since this is his second attempt with the first being I Killed My Lesbian Wife, Hung Her on a Meat Hook, and Now I Have a Three-Picture Deal at Disney, yes that's the whole title.
This is also where Morgan Freeman is Morgan Freeman and Ed Harris is Ed Harris the way they are when given the badge.
Ultimately, this movie will make you sick to your stomach when the truth becomes stark naked.
Burn After Reading (2008)
Between paranoia and intelligence, you get it or you don't
This is the kind of movie you either love or hate, understand what it's all about or have no frickin' idea what made you watch it or take you to a higher level of humor or slap you with a feeling of idiocy. This is, after all, a Coen Brothers film. From The Big Lebowski to Fargo and No Country for Old Men to The Hudsucker Proxy, you either get it or you don't.
This is a very intellectually challenged movie that has made fools of everyone in a subtle comedy that parodies the paranoia of those who believe in conspiracies and give high regards to governments who may not actually be as perspicacious as we like them to be.
With a long list of reputable cast from Brad Pitt to George Clooney, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton and J.K. Simmons they each steal the show with their quirky characters and bizarre eccentricities. This is enough to enjoy for an implied humor that says so much about ourselves when we go overboard with our imaginative theories and this is how we may seem like if we were watched.
It starts off with a simple discovery of a disk that holds secrets that could ruin the US government if it falls onto the wrong hands. Everyone associated with it seems to endanger themselves one way or the other that gets intertwined with a domestic complication rather than a political predicament. Ridiculous as it may be this is the kind of news you would read from funny crime stories or bungling criminals and as they say 'truth is stranger than fiction' and this is what you'll get for your money's worth.
One is a lonely number
In the formula of Crash, Magnolia and Babel comes a local production known as Sepi. It's another one of those movies where three separate stories are merged into one by a common incident, a car accident in this case. Other than that there isn't much interaction or connection between the characters unlike the other mentioned titles.
The first is a story about love found and then lost and then found again. Namely, the story of Adam, Afdlin Shauki. The second comes a tale of Sufi, Tony Eusoff, the man who lost his love but found another through his grief but he could not have her because of her marital status. The final is Imaan, Baizura Kahar, which is the most bizarre tale of the three about a girl who could not let go of her past and has to learn to hold on to the present through love. The theme of the movie is all about love that comes the second time around.
Though it is plotted for success with a formula most romantic dramas are based on, it doesn't have the appeal as much as the characters could have had. It's hard to get into their shoes or feel what they feel in their times of desolation and loneliness. The heart is lost in the overly dramatic roles without the necessary buildup.
Some scenes are lavishly explored while others remain simplistic and the two creates an imbalance on the entirety. Other than the few glitches the movie is warm and at times comical. It's just pleasant above all, with some lovely songs and scenes but it doesn't leave you much to savor after the credits begin to roll.
Needles for the sake of fame and fortune anyone?
I'm not a big fan of Asian horror movies since I have had my share of watching disappointing ones since way back when. I still haven't found one which I could honestly say I enjoy thoroughly in this genre because most of them are predictable and rehashes from the great ones, except for Shutter (2004), The Eye (Gin Gwai - 2002), Dark Water (Honogurai mizu no soko kara - 2002) and a few others.
I almost liked Pontianak Harum Sundal Malam until the second half marred what could have been a much better classic horror tale. As for Susuk I liked the overall presentation which I thought was quite a treat but still, it's not all there yet to make it the superb horror film from Malaysia.
Of vanity and the suggestive powers of sexuality, it does bear a stark resemblance to the exploitative movies of the sixties whether intentionally or not. The sensuality that oozes out from the female characters are undeniably blatant, while the rest are like undercurrents of a raging river.
When the movie ended it took me a while more to lock in the jigsaw pieces that makes up the whole story, which takes a bit of mind unraveling effort to completely grasp the plot. There's nothing much else I can say without coming close to exposing the spoilers except the vampire creature-like thing could have been more terrifying in design.
Besides the bevy of beauties all in a row, other stars who made their cameos include Yasmin Ahmad, Yasmin Yusoff, Romona Rahman and also Amir Muhammad, the director and writer, himself.
I thought it could have done without the gore and shock tactics that gives it the essence, but hey, what's a horror movie without them? Susuk is a superstitious believe that gold or silver needles inserted into the body enhances one's desirability and appeal.
Amir Muhammad also has a new movie 'Malaysian Gods' in the process of being released, I'm sure it has nothing to do with Neil Gaiman's American Gods though.
Mummy dearest not
Before I saw this movie I heard and read so many bad reviews about it I wondered why I should watch it in the first place. Being a die-hard movie goer who doesn't rely on ratings I went anyway. After watching it I realized there were a few elements which the Mummy fans were looking for that weren't there that made them curse the movie much more than a mummy can.
First of all there was no Rachel Weisz. Secondly Michele Yeoh and Jet Li stole the movie much more than Brandon Fraser could help save the day. Thirdly, there was more emotion, though not developed very well, than just the usual mindless drivel and madness. In a way, it was kind of like a cool Kung Fu movie with English speaking actors. Other than those flaws I enjoyed it nevertheless.
Jet Li's powerful characterization need no analysis. Brandon Fraser being Brandon Fraser still has his leftover days of Airheads, which he keeps very close to portraying him again and again in his recent films. Michele Yeoh, the Ipoh girl who has rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous and traveled the world over is always that cool Asian chick who knows Kung Fu. Even in Sunshine, without the Kung Fu, she's still the cool Asian chick with her head screwed on when everyone else is going berserk. It would be nice to see her playing a role where she is not that cool to make her even cooler.
That said, Mummy 3 is in the same vein as The Forbidden Kingdom where Jet Li gets fossilized waiting to wreck havoc.
It doesn't have the grandeur of the Egyptian mummy with its mystical charm, lavish costumes and erotic implications but for a kickass (though not as much as before) time with mythical creatures, martial arts extraordinaire and awesome effects The Mummy 3 is all about letting the good times roll. And the best for me is the Yak part.