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Juk-eum-yi soop (2006)
Dark Forest, short review
Five very boring characters take off for a weekend in the forest. Once there, strange things start to happen: one of the girls is having visions where she sees her friends die in the most horrible ways. Soon her visions are becoming true. Really, really bad horror film with many long, melodramatic scenes. There's a lot of blood, many bad actors and little logic. The only thing this turkey is reminiscent of is the unbelievably bad Thai movie "Diecovery". The only really good film in this four-part horror "series" (the others being "Roommates", "February 29" and "Forbidden Floor") is "February 29", imho. "Dark Forest", on the other hand, is purely bottom-of-the-barrel stuff.
Exciting, sad and unsettling
Superb psychological thriller: a young girl's entire family is wiped out by a murderer. Eight years later she befriends the killer's daughter and grows strangely attached to her. Basically a rather simple story about crime and punishment, but made with a nice touch and a great eye for detail. The camera work and editing is amazing, the acting flawless and the story extremely well-written (it will keep you guessing until the very end). The Japanese title means "Deep Red"; there are no other English titles for this one yet as far as I know. Highly recommended for everyone who wants to see a different kind of Japanese horror narrative.
I watch somewhere around 500-600 films every year. No matter how bad they are, or how boring they are, I never fast-forward or stop watching because of that. With "Organ", however, I came really, really close. This film arguably fits into the "so-bad-it's-painful" category, alongside titles such as "Troll 2", "Children of the Living Dead" and "They Saved Hitler's Brain". But whereas those movies at least have some schlock entertainment value, this piece of c**p just make you depressed and angry. Sometimes, "Organ" looks more like a parody of art-house films; the story is completely unintelligible, the setting (an abandoned industrial estate for most of the running time) just horrible and the actors and the dialogue are laughable. This definitely hits the top spot of my all-time worst list.
Kôshônin: Mashita Masayoshi (2005)
Better than the originals
A mad bomber is threatening the Tokyo subway system using a high tech train presumably carrying an explosive device. Negotiator of the title is called upon to solve the situation before disaster strikes.
This is a spin-off from the TV-series "Bayside Shakedown" which in turn spawned two big budget movies (hugh successes in its native Japan). I haven't seen the TV-series in question, but "Kôshônin Mashita Masayoshi" is a far better movie than the two films that followed the series. "Bayside Shakedown" 1 and 2 are very preachy and melodramatic (especially part 2) and with very little entertainment value. The main focus seems to be on the hierarchy within the Japanese police force in those movies, and the action and the storytelling becomes somewhat secondary. It is very different here; Kôshônin Mashita Masayoshi is a tight and exciting action film without the unnecessary and exaggerated social commentary. Only the ending seems a bit incomplete. Overall, an entertaining and fast-paced film.
Best Japanese film of 2005
Emotional, thoroughly wonderful drama about loss, grief and friendship, and how we deal with those issues in various ways.
This is a very intelligent film about just that; the robot, "Hinokio", beautifully serves as a metaphor for the inability of human interaction that the boy "Satoru" experiences after the death of his mother. His only means of communication with the outside world is "Hinokio", and together they ultimately break the silence between "Satoru" and the world outside.
The acting is top-class, and the robotic effects simply awesome (some of the best CGI ever put on screen). A unique movie experience.
Average ghost story
Slightly above average horror tale, albeit very, very similar to Ringu & co. The story (young woman possessed by demonic wig) is OK, not original in any way but a pretty nice premise. It is a well made film with a few surprises, some blood-letting and good performances. But first-time director Shin-yeon Won tells this story in a very uneven and slow manner, and the main characters remain undeveloped throughout the film. The first half of the movie is OK, but during the last 20-30 minutes, the story drags a bit. This is basically just a rehash of earlier and better Asian movies as I mentioned before, and for those who have seen a lot of Korean and Japanese cinema will probably agree with that. This is just nothing special; feels like someone saw "A Tale of Two Sisters" before coming up with the idea for this film.
This is just another Asian horror where white painted ghosts are seen from "scary" angles with their heads bent down. There aren't any frightening scenes whatsoever, only clichés and repetitions from earlier (and better) films. The story isn't that bad really, but this would have been a lot better film without the supernatural bits. I mean, what is it with the Koreans and ghosts when it comes to horror? The Japanese and the Chinese have made a lot of good, creepy and gory movies without using ghosts in their stories. However, "Bloody Beach" is one good example of a Korean horror film sans ghosts. "Face" on the other hand is a typically dull example of just how one-note the Asian horror industry of today has become.
Ebony, Ivory and Jade (1979)
A terrible c-version of James Bond with bad acting (especially by the stiff Bert Convy) and laughable plot holes. The pointless musical interludes merely makes it clear to us that the content of this disaster of a movie is remarkably thin (to say the least).
Element of Doubt (1996)
Very exciting thriller
Unpredictable and quite scary horror/thriller, clearly inspired by Hitchcock's "Suspicion". An exciting story, superb acting and distinct direction highlights this inspiring tale of terror. My verdict: 7 out of 10.