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Clash of the Empires (2012 Video)
5/10
Come on, it is not so awful
27 May 2015
It is not so bad, folks. Obviously it's not a good movie but not so terrible either. The Cambodian scenery is gorgeous and the CGI effects are fine considering the budget (in my opinion the monkeys in "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" are much worse than the giant komodo dragons, spiders and other creatures here, especially because producers of Spielberg's film spent a hundred times more money. Also we have some decent fights and a cool Bai Ling playing the role of a warrior woman (definitely this is not her best performance from far but she is still very sexy and cool).

I watched it with my sons, seven and eleven years old, and we enjoyed it. Despite its moderate violence, I think that is not a bad film for watching with your children, it has enough elements for that: exotic adventures, a touch of fantasy and a subtle message of friendship and loyalty. It is not good, I repeat, but not so bad. Italian filmmakers made a lot of movies like this in seventies and eighties (usually more violent and less familiar), some of them have become cult movies only for nostalgic reasons. "Clash of the Empires" makes me remember those films and, being honest, maybe because I miss them I don't dislike this one.
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9/10
One of the best Korean horror dramas
15 May 2015
For me this movie is very close to a masterpiece. It combines different genres (horror, suspense and drama) with superb results and it is a piece of art in many senses: the magnificent work of photography and lighting, the fascinating and very solid script, the beautiful and melancholic soundtrack, the strong performances (especially from the trio of actresses), the smart and sensible film directing, and so on... However, some persons close to me (like my wife or friends) don't share my enthusiasm. Their reason is always the same: they consider that the story is too much complex and confusing. Certainly, it's not an easy one, I have watched it four times and I always discover something new, some detail that before I didn't notice. To ignore that kind of clue didn't help me to get a full understanding of this horror and sad tale. But, is this a shortcoming of the movie? Of course not!

It's just that the way of making movies has changed during last two decades and now we are very lazy as spectators. In some way this film is like a puzzle, but all the pieces fit together with an undeniable accuracy. So we can't complain if we don't get it in a first attempt. Very possibly we din't pay enough attention on the details, because this is a movie where every detail matters. From the very beginning to the very end. And this, of course, requires some intellectual effort or basic concentration. But we are lazy, folks, and we refuse to confess it. It's easier for us to say that the director failed.

Be sure that the director had his mind very clear when he made his movie. He had very clear what he wanted to express and how he wanted to express it. This film is like a Swiss clock: a perfect mechanism of technical precision. But also an unbeatable work of cinematographic art and poetry. And yes, some points will be always open to interpretations even after watching the movie one hundred times. Is that bad? I believe that is one of the virtues that makes this stuff so captivating.
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Locked Down (2010)
7/10
Underrated nice B action movie, give it a chance
12 May 2015
I like this movie. OK, they didn't spend (or waste) a lot of money and the story is not "Gone with the wind". But inside its limits I have enjoyed it a lot. First of all, I found it very entertaining. Much more entertaining, in fact, that many Hollywood blockbusters. Second, I really think that Tony Schiena is a good actor for this kind of action stuff, this is my first time to watch him on the screen but his fine performance (cool but also human and believable) deserves my respect. I was surprised too because fighting are built into a dramatic story that makes sense for me. This is a violent film but not only a film about violence, I found more topics in it: friendship, honor, loyalty, family. If I can complain about something, it is only Bai Ling's waste performance. This actress deserves something better than appear only some minutes with a few lines of dialog. Watch "Red corner" or "The beautiful country" and you will understand what I am talking about.
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7/10
I liked it
6 March 2015
I don't mean that it is a good movie but it's a funny and entertaining one. For example, I love the premise: a bunch of thieves start making a robbery and not much time later they become the hostages of two criminals worst than them. And this story still reserves a couple of twists (three or four in fact) that maybe are not very believable but at least are unexpected.

The film has its flaws: the gunfires are a little slow and not so exciting as the director hopes (but sometimes this shortcoming becomes a virtue giving a touch of realism to the action); the two bad guys, especially one of them, overact; and Michael Madsen... well, Madsen has become in last years a parody of himself, but that's not bad here considering that his character is a total asshole.

However, the rest of the cast is fine. I liked very much Arnold Vosloo (sober and credible) and the always outstanding Bai Ling (if you have doubts about her talent just watch Red Corner). Also I liked Edward Furlong and the support cast. And yes, this is a low budget movie but money is not always a necessary condition for getting something interesting and acceptable.

To pay attention on the weak points or the strong ones depends only on the mood and expectations of the viewer. In my case I have seen potential and good moments, and I have enjoyed with what I have seen.
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Domino (2005)
3/10
Director's ego and aesthetic excesses destroy a film with a big potential
2 March 2015
This movie had all the ingredients for being at least a correct action- drama film, if not a very exciting one: an interesting script inspired by the life of Domino Harvey, a real female bounty hunter and a fascinating character for a Hollywood story; a high budget; a cast full of talented and famous actors and actresses: Keira Knightley, Mickey Rourke, Edgard Ramirez, Delroy Lindo, Lucy Liu, Christopher Walken, Jacqueline Bisset, Dabney Coleman and so on.

Then, what is the problem with it? The problem is Tony Scott and his hysterical, inopportune and always "over the top" way of directing. This is his trademark, his style, I know, but it sucks. Thanks to him, it's almost impossible to enjoy anything of this movie: you cannot enjoy the drama, you cannot enjoy the action, you cannot enjoy the actors... You just get annoyed, with your eyes tired and possibly a big headache.

And it is really a pity because Domino could have been MUCH MUCH better if its deceased director wouldn't have been so obsessed in sacrificing the content for the sake of the form. By the way, a very wrong concept of what must be a movie in formal terms: a feature film should never be a video clip, what it works in three or four minutes becomes always an exhausting and irritating audiovisual experience in a length of two hours.
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Ai zuozhan (2004)
4/10
Fake and disappointing
28 February 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Love Battlefield is not a good movie (I don't understand why its score is so high). It could have been a very good film but that's not the case. Although the premise is interesting, its development is a big failure. When a story is forced in some unnatural way that includes resources out of logic and common sense, that story becomes misleading and unbelievable. And this is the main problem of Love Battlefield: placing its target (shake profoundly the audience) before the requirements of the story itself, what could have been a stimulating mixture of thriller and romantic drama is only a presumptuous (and often dishonest) action HK movie disguised as a "quality drama" just for satisfying the likings and expectations of continental China.

Let's see one example of what I mean: Yui has been kidnapped by a group of thugs and his girlfriend has been a witness. She goes to the police office to report the fact. One of the detectives is a common friend of her and Yui, but he doesn't listen to her because in the same morning somebody has killed half dozen of cops and the police department is very busy trying to find the killers (both cases are related but it is unknown). Some hours later the police receives a photo showing Yui with the thugs, also in the picture is very clear that Yui is in difficult circumstances. But the detective (and common friend, let's not forget it) doesn't evaluate the photo as a confirmation of Yui's girlfriend report. Instead of that, he begins to think of Yui as the main suspect of the crimes.

The script is plentiful of inconsistencies like that, only for leading the events to desperate situations and leaving the audiences in shock. Sorry but I don't buy it: the main character (Yui) has a lot of chances to escape from his captors; the bad guys don't stop killing people and making noise in the city, driving here and there in a stolen car, but they don't face a single police control in the streets... Is this Hong Kong or the Far West?

The final result is a hysterical drama mixed with a mediocre action movie (yes, mediocre, don't expect anything impressive except, maybe, the scene of the car running over one of the thugs). And from any point of view, a very disappointing film.

I give it 4 out of 10 because the actors (especially Eason Chan, Niki Chow and Candy Cheung) are good and the story has its potential. But I can't find more values for giving it a better score, sorry (and I am a big fan of Asian movies).
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The Wiz (1978)
8/10
Brilliant and absolutely underrated
19 February 2015
Such a low score for one the latest great musical movies... I confess that it makes me a little painful. Because it impacted me when I was a kid but now, more than thirty years later, I continue loving it and my two sons enjoyed its magic and heart, maybe not so much as me but sufficiently if we consider what the kids expect now. Please, please... We have Diana Ross and Michael Jackson! The soundtrack is excellent and the FX are good for its time. Some of the choreographies are outstanding and the idea of transferring the world of Oz to the suburbs of New York is absolutely brilliant from any point of view. The atmosphere is great, I love the dark elements! But, above all, this is a fairy tale about friendship, love, learning from life, overcoming your fears and knowing yourself. About what it seems and what it is. It is a vital lesson made with love and passion, and full of talent.
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The Breed (2001)
8/10
A big surprise for good
17 February 2015
This one has been a very pleasant surprise. I confess that Bai Ling was my only reason to watch the film and I didn't hope anything good from it. I was wrong, Bai Ling didn't make me disappointed but I found a plus in many other aspects of the movie. First of all, the story is very interesting, solid and well written. And this point is very praiseworthy considering that it is a vampire flick. Second virtue: good actors. Third strong point: the successful atmosphere. Fourth one: the soundtrack. The only weakness of this movie (but just my opinion) is the way of filming the action scenes, a little over the top for my taste (John Woo and "The Matrix" are evident influences here and honestly not very well resembled). It happens something similar with a couple of FX, failed and cheesy. But the virtues surpass thoroughly the flaws, so this is a powerful B-movie that worked beyond my expectations. And it did it very well. And... did I talk about Bai Ling? Frequently this actress is relegated to sexy or eccentric roles. In my opinion she is an underrated actress, I have watched not a few of her movies and Ling is always versatile and with a very big skill: she always gives you more than you expect from her role and performance. In this case, vulnerability and warmth. And that's not a small thing for a supposed cool female vampire.
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The Bodyguard (2004)
6/10
Not what I expected but OK
17 February 2015
Well... what can I say? When I watched this movie I thought that it was a Thai action movie like "Ong Bak", "Born to fight" or "Chocolate". Instead of that, what I found was a comedy action (sometimes a very crazy comedy) so my first reaction was to wonder "what the hell is this?". But that was my mistake, don't you think so? After changing my expectations while I was watching the film, I found myself laughing sometimes (hysterically at a couple of jokes). Not bad if I think that I'm not so easy to laugh. But what I primarily liked was the relation between the young heir and the girl from the suburbs and her family and neighbors. That was a nice touch, obviously not very developed in a movie like this but anyway nice and likable. Not bad at all, yes... Sometimes it's silly but it has its moments too. My two sons liked it, probably more than me. But I didn't dislike it either, so I give it 6 out of 10.
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5/10
Good premise, weak and dull development
24 December 2014
This is the kind of film that could be much better than actually it is. The premise of the story is interesting: the double of a rich Japanese man's daughter is kidnapped and the Japanese man refuses to pay her ransom because anyway she is just a double. Then the bodyguard of the girl (Louis Mandylor) decides to kidnap the real daughter (Rei Kikukawa) for forcing her father to pay the rescue and in this way to save the another girl.

Unfortunately, this TV film with a lot of Japanese names in the staff (not only the main actress but also the director, one of the scriptwriters and almost all the producers) goes by the most well-known and dead easy ways of the genre. The action is not exciting, most of the dialogs are too archetypal and many situations don't make big sense.

About the actors, Louis Mandylor is annoying inexpressive here and James Russo is totally wasted as the villain (Udo Kier appears only some minutes but at least his "bad guy" performance is more disturbing). Honestly, only Rei Kikukawa deserved my attention. She is beautiful but also a good and solid actress (in Japan she has a long screen career although she is still in her thirties, but obviously a film like "Double deception" didn't help her to get any kind of success in the United States).

I give the movie 5 out of 10 because it is a modest entertainment if you don't have anything better to do in a boring day (or if you like Rei Kikukawa). Otherwise I recommend you to read a book or to do other things.
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7/10
Underrated nice B action movie, give it a chance
23 December 2014
I don't understand why the score of this movie is so low. For me it has been a nice surprise, I bought it in a second hand DVD shop because I like Rutger Hauer but without big expectations (Hauer has starred in some good or very good movies but also in many bad ones). However, what I found here is a very entertaining thriller with good performances and some welcome innovations inside its genre and category (yes, series B action).

Rutger Hauer is obviously overweight here but still cool and charismatic, Tara Fitzgerald is cute and charming, and Andrew McCarthy plays a good and odious villain. I like the concept of a veteran cop who ignores everything about computers fighting against a group of tech criminals (with the proper help from his younger female colleague) and I like the relation between the two main characters and how it develops. Also I like the touch of comedy and some funny dialogs ("I don't know the difference between a microchip and a potato chip").

The movie is well directed, the script is more than average for this kind of product and there are a couple of very good action scenes (I liked specially the one in the nightclub). Also I found the soundtrack cool.

I really enjoyed it and I recommend it to fans of Rutger Hauer and very decent series B flicks.
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Chan oi dik (2008)
5/10
Nothing new
7 March 2012
This is a mediocre film from Hong Kong, still entertaining (that's the reason I give it 5) but full of topics for deserving a higher score. The story is about a girl who travels from Taiwan to Hong Kong for paying posthumous tribute to her dead boyfriend. There she meets common friends and tries to remember her past with the deceased guy (in fact she keeps amnesiac after an accident that almost killed her). There are not many scares and the way is always the same: basically to make louder the sound. While the plot progresses it seems more a romantic movie with some ghostly elements than a genuine horror one. Only near the end there are some twists that complicate the simple story following the premise "nothing is how it seems". The resolution is ambiguous but not bad. The main problem is the absolute lack of originality. Some annoying characters, specially a guy with glasses, don't help. The main actress plays well and she is undoubtedly very beautiful. Direction and score are correct. But Hong Kong horror movies use to be lower than Japanese or Korean and "Forgive and forget" is not an exception (instead of this I recommend "Dream home").
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5/10
Regular film
5 March 2012
This is the story of two gigolos, both young but one a little older than the another one. The elder one has also relationship with the sister of the younger one. He is that kind of guy always gambling, telling lies and owing money to everybody. The youngest one is new in the business, in his twenty some and handsome. He makes the mistake of falling in love with a girl involved in the same business, so he becomes dangerously jealous soon. That's essentially all, not much for more than two hours of length. The movie is sometimes pretty real and sometimes over the top. The setting and description of archetypes are realistic but the actions and reactions of main characters, specially the protagonist, aren't at all convincing. Not a big conclusion after more than two hours, either. There are worse Korean films as there are much better ones. Acting is OK the same as technical aspects (until now I haven't watched a Korean movie that fails in that) but script should be polished. The result is so aesthetically brilliant as conceptually incomplete. Not a mess but unsatisfactory.
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7/10
A strange witnesses a mourning home
4 March 2012
This is a story about a young girl who accepts a strange proposal from two unknown guys: to travel from Seoul to a small rural town for dealing with the imminent decease of a man who could be her father. Although she is not his daughter, she looks pretty close like her and the guys don't have more time to find the real one. What it follows is the resume of some hours (less than one day) in the life of a family waiting for the death of one of the members. A mourning home from the point of view of a stranger (the girl) that it's also our point of view. In that kind of brief but forced and stressful coexistence, people feel sad but hungry, drink over the top and talk over the top. People get nervous and complain, some human miseries are shown but family bonds remain after all. Somebody is dying, his relatives are cooking grilled meat and discussing about soups. Is that bad, or is it simplely human? And now we have the girl. Who is she? Why did she accept that kind of weird proposal? The last minutes give us the answer, so austere as melancholic, like Seoul in the early morning of a Sunday. The lost and lonely soul of a young woman has broken the routine of an unsatisfactory and empty life during less than 24 hours. Giving something for nothing to a family that it's not her family, trying to find some meaning to a life without sense and the absence of parents who really care where she is and what she is doing. In its docudrama style, simple and direct, sometimes very realist, sometimes nicer than life as only cinema can express and sublimate life, this movie is not for everybody but it will satisfy its target.
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7/10
A weird but satisfactory proposal
2 March 2012
First of all, I must say that I'm not a fan of baseball and even I'm not interested in this sport. In fact, when I watched the movie I didn't know that the story has some relation with baseball. But, as it has been told in another review, baseball is more some kind of background although it's always present. For me, "Green minds, metal bats" is a story about three misfits with something in common: they love baseball. Two men and a woman. The guys, still young but old for being the sports idols that they could have been if luck would have smiled at them a decade ago. The girl, drunken and aggressive but sexy as hell and fan of baseball, also in love (in her way) with one of the guys. It is a weird kind of comedy, written and shot in a very Japanese style (including some strange situations and freak secondary characters, like the son of the mayor of the town) and slow paced. About main characters, they are not specially likable: one of the guys seems a little dumb (because a stroke he received in the head ten years ago), the another one is an insignificant but corrupt cop and impossible husband, and the girl shows an unbearable temperament specially when she drinks over the top (although she is still sexy as hell, did I say it?). But, here is the magic, we finish empathizing with them. The dumb guy is admirable in his purpose to get the "ultimate swing", the odious little cop is still able to give a chance to an old friend, and the drunken and selfish chick loves and respect her partner (but probably he never will know it, she is that kind of "bad good girl" hiding her real feelings with a bottle of whiskey and some tough manners). It is a little movie, bizarre but nice and lovely in its unconventional way. The end is optimistic and pleasant. Losers deserve to be happy too!
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A-leum-dab-da (2008)
6/10
Not bad but it could be better
29 February 2012
Warning: Spoilers
The story of this movie is very simple. A very attractive girl must face her beauty like a curse more than a gift. It seems that every man who meets her can't avoid to bother her in some way, until one of them rapes her inside her own apartment. Since then, the girl tries her best to look ugly: first eating a lot for becoming fat and, after failing in her purpose, trying the opposite. When both attempts fail, she begins to make up like a whore and she tries to seduce unknown men. She says that she wants to be alive but she starts a painful process of conscious self-destruction. A young cop tries to protect her but at the same time he falls in love with her and starts to lose his control with tragic consequences for both. That's all. The film is well directed and performed. Kim Ki-duk produces and writes the script but this is not necessarily a guarantee of quality. Let's be honest, he has good movies (like "3-iron") and not so good ones. Although in this case he is not the director, it is one of his "products". And it works the just for deserving 6 or 7 stars, not more (I give it 6). Personally I dislike forced happy ends the same as I dislike forced unhappy ones. Generally, all in "Beautiful" seems a little over the top including the final conclusion. Kim Ki-duk should begin to concentrate more in giving a genuine message and less in trying to shock us. He has an unquestionable talent but he pays too much attention on the reaction of his public. Only when he forgets this handicap he is able to offer works truly authentic and interesting. "Beautiful" has interesting aspects but it could be much better.
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7/10
A thriller not so conventional
26 February 2012
I think that one of the main differences between Asian and Western cinematographies is that the first ones mix genres more widely than the second ones. The result is that Eastern movies use not to be so predictable as Western films, and this is applicable to commercial titles too. South Korean movies are a good example of this miscellany. Concretely, in "Diary of June" or "Bystanders" ("6-wol-eui Il-gi" is its original title) we can find the typical thriller about a group of cops trying to catch a serial killer, a buddy movie with some touches of comedy, and specially in the last 30 minutes a very intense drama that made me remember the dark social connotations of the Japanese "Confessions". This cocktail of genres is always welcome if script and direction can keep the balance between the elements. Just like a cocktail, that it will be a good one if the ingredients have been mixed and shaken in the right proportion. Fortunately, many Korean movies succeed in this and "Diary of June" is not an exception. As a thriller, it keeps the necessary suspense during its first half. Later the identity of the killer won't be a mystery, but the reason is not a flaw of the script. That's because, since then, the social drama acquires more importance than the criminal investigation. Like "Confessions", the target of the critic is the failure of the educational establishment (including passive teachers and well-intentioned but mistaken parents or relatives). Kids can be cruel, very cruel, but their cruelty is only a reflection of the cruelty (or just unhappiness) showed by adults in front of their astonished faces. We have a very big responsibility for the new generations and too much often we are not conscious of that. Every member of the cast, including the teenagers, is good. But specially Sin Eun-kyeong, as the tough but sensible female cop with her own personal demons, does great work. Well supported by Eric Moon, there is a good chemistry between their characters and some funny moments involving their superior officers. This film is not one of the best of South Korean cinematography (the competence is high) but it works and it goes beyond the simple entertainment thanks to its social message. Not a must see but I highly recommend it.
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5/10
A very big miscast!
11 February 2012
Well, what can I say? I am Spanish and I am a little familiarized with Japan and Japanese culture, my girlfriend is a Japanese girl living in Tokyo and I have visited the city. In my humble opinion, the portrait of Tokyo in this movie could be one of its limited virtues because at least is trying to show a different point of view focused not only on the typical tourist pictures but also on some not so glamorous places as small restaurants of ramen, a cemetery or a market for selling fish. Soundtrack is interesting and well chosen too, and nothing to complain about photography of the French Jean-Claude Larrieu. About Isabel Coixet, her work as a director is competent and even it has a "touch" more Japanese than Spanish (more concentrated on the silences or natural sounds than the dialogs or artificial noises, for example).

Until here the positive. Now the not so positive, always in my opinion. First, the story. A professional killer falling in love with his (her) victim and breaking his (her) own rules with bad consequences. How many times we have watched this kind of story in a movie? Too many times, I think. Second (and specially), the main actor. Sergi López. He is a respected actor here in Spain, but sorry, to choose him as the man able to light some fire in the cold heart of Ryu is one of the biggest mistakes I have seen in a casting for a movie. Sergi López, let's be honest, is not tall, not sophisticated, too old for Ryu and also scandalously fat for this kind of character. He is not charming, his face is the face of a farmer or a boxer and his voice is annoying in its vulgarity.

Again, sorry Sergi López, but nobody can believe that a very young Japanese girl can kill herself because of you, and also another young girl can fall in love with you until the extreme to risk her own life. Everything in only one month. Wow, are you some kind of Spanish chubby Bond with a special skill for melting Japanese girls? Isabel Coixet is a woman, and it's supposed a clever one. Does she believe the script? I don't believe it! And sorry sorry, even I can't believe López managing a wine shop for gourmet clients in Tokyo.
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