Reviews written by numinair
Love Now (AKA: Changing Partners) (DVD) (Limited Edition) (Korea Version)(5)Our Price: US$21.99List: US$28.99Save: US$7.00 (24%)2 people found this review helpful
November 19, 2007 Affairs of the Heart
Sometimes its totally the movie that is the focal point with me (which is what it should be, I guess), but other times its the delight of who is actually appearing in it. It should be a balance of both, but this time I really enjoyed this film for the latter reason (and why I bought this DVD), as Jung Hwa Uhm and Yong Woo Park are getting to be firm favorites of mine, and give two enjoyable performances here. Alongside them (literally) are Chae Yong Han and Dong Geon Lee, who help to make this film about four career professionals (and 2 couples ready to change partners) who are all romantically starved by being with their better halves - you get here a quite entertaining and interesting tale of extra martial affairs. If anyone who watched and enjoyed the recent movie "Seducing Mr Prefect", with Jung Hwa's class act there, I can strongly recommend this, as Jung Hwa's vibrant character and dizziness in her role here, is similarly funny and entertaining. And she goes across all the emotion spectrum again! She comes out with some retaliating classic lines, too (which I know are better in Korean, but I have to use the crutch of English subbies), that suits her charactered humor. I liked the bit when Yoon Na accuses Young Joon of using too much English word play in her sentences, as she tries to woo him (professional at this stage) as her business client, and of then her retaliation to his laconic attitude. I won't spoil it and say any more, but this film is all Jung Hwa style to a tee - playing the woman scorned and taking no prisoners! Especially with her 'boxing match' stand off with Young Joo! Likewise, the ever increasingly likable Yong Woo is on form here in his laid back and amiable manner, as the hotel manager Min Jae, as he woos Young Joo's wife So Yeo, when they meet in Hong Kong. Sensitive.
Although this is another cheating in relationships movie, its far less cavalier in the sort of cheating mode of recent similar movies, and more of a 'finding the right partner that is more suitable' type - by these couple's initial marriage concerns being seemingly at a cul-de-sac of no horizons! But lessons are learned in all of this, and the story balances up the sensitive issues of the characters straying and cheating in the first place. The couplings learn, in fact, more about the hidden feelings of their spouses, by the emotions brought to the surface by the affairs. Its difficult to actually tsk at their boundary breaking actions, here too, as Young Joon shows hardly any attention to his wife So Yeo, and Yoo Na constantly demands that Min Jae should be more higher in his business status. Which is all fuel for an affair, by the looks of it here.
Its a bit steamy in places, though - considering its '18' tag, but actually these scenes of passion (which are only two scenes) aren't exactly overt as some Korean films can be, and are humorously paralleled (especially with Yoo Na and Young Joon) to ease any embarrassment factor.
The packaging to this DVD is nice too! Its a digi-pack two disk set that is housed in a gorgeous slip case with a nice set of postcards enclosed, that are the size of the DVD slip case. One thing with the packaging, though, is that it states there is only Korean subtitles to the film, but panic ye not, as there are also good English subbies, for those who appreciate them!
Its all worth it, this - a good film, good overall performance and one great 'present giving' DVD set with nice case and postcards. Recommended to all romantics and especially for anyone who enjoyed Jung Hwa in "Seducing Mr Perfect". You'll love her in this!
Forest Of Death (DVD) (Hong Kong Version)2 people found this review helpful
November 16, 2007 Shadow Aliens in the Trees
Oh, my God.....its full of trees! Not that this film is anything remotely about the condition of the Rain forests and its dwindling habitat, but a horror setting of another kind.
Although this Danny Pang film is okay, its pretty much a basic plot and stripped down stereotypical affair, that mentions a lot about the psychology of suicide, unknown phenomena and maybe 'aliens', but never elaborates on any of this to be of any real meaning. It does touch on interesting themes though, and I find the whole preceptive idea of the atmosphere of dark forests quite ironic in contrast, considering their normally accepted tranquility and sublime nature. Plenty of fog and thick dense scary atmospheres in this, though, to contradict all those flower filled glades you may have spent Sunday afternoons in - and all subtly ominous to create a mildly scary film. As well as a ghost/horror this is also a bit of a thriller, 'Nancy Drew' style, with Shu Qi's cop-on-a-mission to find out if a man is guilty or not, in connection with a girl's murder in this weired forest. (So she asks botanical scientist Ekin Cheng, and his tea boy side kick, to talk to the trees for her and her team, and ask the trees if they saw anything!) Its certainly scented with the X Files fragrance of the supernatural, too, and similarly having Shu Qi as Detective Ha here, parallels the X Files Scully type persona. Although these are immediate comparisons with X Files sci-fi, this film mainly touches the nature of passions and lost souls, but amongst this ghosts in the biological machine stuff in a forest. With the latter part, you also get a bit of a UFO ending, in a 'is there sometimes a bigger force in the universe controlling the picture of our personal lives' sort of thing. What is sometimes referred to as the Deux Ex Machina - or invisible movements in things, by a God or angel.
Although a fairly decent watch, its all watered down stuff, but it does touch elements of worth. It seems to have a religiosity of tone about it, concerning the character of Mr Tin, who always tries to warn the would be poor female victims, by carving his signs to 'turn back and think of those you will leave behind', as a sort of religious signifier of salvation to those straying into dangerous territories of the mind, or passions. It even brought, for me, the Hong Kong movie "The Room" to mind (which has absolutely nothing to do with horror or sci-fi - in the conventional sense, anyway), as likewise, the theme was also of a TV reporter (as like Rain Li's character here) losing self worth and control, by the pressures of her career and past, and who also takes drastic measures.
Worth a try. And I did love Danny's tongue in cheek of showing a Sadako type ghost appear at one point, coming into view on a TV screen - Blair Witch style - as an obvious send up! It has got some interesting things to say, too (maybe) and effectual atmosphere (although not backed up by some good significant music), some cogitating intellectual bits, but if you want some real substance in all of this you need to really look elsewhere, or maybe look between the lines of this film, to flesh out the motifs pointed out in it all. Otherwise, Mediocre City, I'm afraid.
The Cut (DVD) (Korea Version)4 people found this review helpful
November 12, 2007 Quite a Lot of Plot
Although I've given this a seven, I'm sure by the nature of this movie that it is possible to nudge it one more star, but as mentioned below, the reason I find this film slightly under par, is due to its possibly confusing plot line.
The premise of "Cadaver" is about six medical students, all awaiting their debut anatomy class dissection tests on human cadavers, to become fully fledged medical doctors. The only hiccup in all of their choice of merited vocation, is that the tattooed cadaver they open up triggers her restless ghost spirit, and like a genie out of a bottle, decides to take revenge on the six students, one by one, with grudge like approach. Enter the white clothed ghoul and blackened surroundings of vengeance. Well, thats a simple summery of the plot anyway, as this motley crew of medical students (who look as if they are the drinking friends of the ex-school characters in K-horror "To Sir With Love"), eventually find themselves submerged in a complex history connected to the girl's cadaver they dissect. And as we do too, in a multi layered set of sub plot twists, that certainly ensures this film having an un-predictable ending. "Cadaver" tries too hard, I think though, making the twists too busy by cutting additional plot narratives back and forth, and with additional suspects, pseudo psychologies, etc., for it all to eventually open itself up (sorry) with a none predictable and satisfactory 'all out' final revelation. There are multiple possibilities surrounding the cadaver ghost, and with so much to the mix here, makes the last three quarters on, a bit confusing and dragging. So when the first student is trapped and killed in the anatomy class autopsy room, don't believe that this is the only aspect of the plot. There is much more plot twists to follow - in fact more twists than at a ballerina's pirouette session.
The film type is also a mixture of ghost elements blended into a medical sleuth thriller (where even Inspector Colombo would be scratching his head a bit more than usual), where two young medical students decide to find out the background to the girl's cadaver they had cut open. They have good reason as she seems to be trying to kill them, concerning the first girl student killed in the autopsy room, and the associated students are also getting the same dream of a one eyed surgeon on the prowl - all convincing the med students that they have been horribly cursed by dissecting this unfortunate tattooed girl's cadaver. This continues, with students biting the dust one by one, building the tension, but with so many bundled additions to the plot, the film threatens to converge and begin to dampen out the scary elements of the ghost in the autopsy room. The ending is good, though, when it finally reveals the full picture, and the plot all fits together well, but due to overall complexity, makes it a bit anti climatic and partly confusing.
Not in anyway is this film bad, though. Its got great spooky atmosphere and cinematography, and the Korean horror elements are all present and correct to what you would expect if you have seen "Cinderella", "Muio", "Apt", etc. The one main area in "Cadaver" is of course the body gore element, which you may think prevalent here. Ironically, considering this grimly body premise, "Cadaver" is rather tame when it comes to the actual dissecting scenes. In fact the medical students are most likely to be the only ones most scared by all this, than the humble viewer. Still, I did have some sweaty palms, palpitations and a feeling of un-ease when you first see the anatomy class autopsy room (you could imagine students phoning their mums afterwards, to say it wasn't a bad day, but the class room was like something out of a horror film), and the grim atmosphere of dead cadavers being wheeled in for the med school practice. Lots of white faced students, too, matching their first day nerves and starched coats. But like all things faced and done with - the scariness becomes muted after that initial scene, and the dice and splice isn't quite as grim as you would expect afterwards. Its hard to explain, as you do get scenes of open cadavers and dismembered limbs, but the horror is unusually muted to look 'artificial' by the lack of blood or gore emphasis. And when the students attempt their first observation test, it even gets a bit comical and absurd with odd bits of limbs and open cadavers everywhere, along with confused students not having a clue of how to answer the questions. "Is this an arm?"....."I think so". I guess learning to be a doctor isn't easy, and there is the added stress in this film c/o a grudge ghost later on. Its certainly not as grizzly as "To Sir With Love"! But if you are going to throw up, it will be more likely regarding the dizzy scene cuts and fast plot shifts, than the body parts here.
The performances are always good and likewise in this film you get good solid performances, and Ji Min Han is a good lead as the main student here. As like the ringu/grudge films, this is another form of those movies in a somewhat different approach. The overall message of the plot, seems to be regarding the power of medical science and the ethical usage of cadavers, and of what can go horribly wrong (symbolized here by a vengeful ghost) if someone in power perverts their required station. The tattooed lady in this, not quite getting satisfactory after sales treatment she deserves after being submitted to medical science. It is of course all about love again, too! May be a second look at this film is required, though, to get a clearer picture of it all, than judge this on only one viewing (which I have). That's subjective of me, cause I got confused just before the end, and why I've given it seven. If you like the Korean horror flicks, (which I do, too), you certainly don't want to miss this. But think of this as the first dish to the main course that will be the Koran ghost/horror "Epitaph", which is certainly a film you don't want to miss.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, cheese!2 people found this review helpful
November 7, 2007 More Cheese, Please!
The Pancakes, according to this CDs additional English liner notes, is actually one gal HK artist Dejay, who writes, performs and produces all her melodic output. Although purely happy fun songs in one respect, the song/lyrics also synthesize more serious configurations about conventional gray life, but when these songs shine their light on everyday mundane things, suddenly life seems to get a new Technicolor outlook. You'll certainly have a smile on your face after listening to this! The songs are a mixture of Cantonese and English synth pop, which makes this album more widely accessible, I suppose, but all the melodies are fantastic, even if you lack understanding of the respective languages. For me, this CD also brought back memories of 80s bands I listened to in the UK at the time - The Raincoats, Altered Images, Girls at our Best, (to name several) and likewise, this album's styled indie flavored 80s pop groove, fits nicely into their category. The songs are childlike in experimentation and fantastically uplifting, but without being too sickly cute or babyish to make them impossibly ridiculous for adults to appreciate. Certainly The Pancakes are for anybody to listen too!
You're sure to have fun listening to this! With "Fing Fing Ha" (track 1), your zeal is immediately lifted by Dejay's addictive cute voice and the songs instant upbeat melody. Track 2 and 3 also have instant addictive and catchy rhythms and Dejay's sweet melodics just melt you heart, with two more songs easily accessible and approachable. By track 4, with the English lyrical song "Clouds", this is where the CD soared for me, (its just g-r-e-a-t!) and with the additional Kraftwerk synth pop beat, I was humored into a cackling and giggly child myself, by the way this nostalgic melody filled my body, as well as my soul, with utter appreciative joy! If this doesn't get you on your dancing toes, little will! "Clouds" is such a sure fire winner you cannot fail to like it, and the song screams (although not literally) to be a hit single! I loved the "Walk on the Wild Side" Lou Reed type do-do do-do vocal on the refrain, that added a bit of juxtaposed nostalgia (well, for me, anyways) amidst the innocence and freshness of the song. "Gum Gum Gum" (track 5) is an award winning song for a TV programme called "McDull, Prince da la Bun", by what I have read, and I can well understand its high merit, as its another brilliantly produced (and catchy) song. It immediately grows on you as you listen, with its slightly mad, but utterly endearing childlike melody (you'll be crying 'happy' tears with this!), and the technical aspect to this simple and complex song, is amazing! Dejay is one superb and astute tune smith!
If you have pondered on trying out The Pancakes, but feel you're either too old, too young, or your street cred could be in jeopardy for buying a 'child like sounding CD' (which is totally misleading, anyway, here), or even feel shy of the indie pop scene....cast all those doubting Thomas of tomfoolery thoughts asunder, as "1,2,3,4,5,6, Cheese!" is one of the most crafted pieces of musical fun your ears will come across this year. The whole idea of a Pancakes album, too, is to lift your spirits and bring back innocent memories of youth (unless you are a youth, of course), in a creative and retrospective manner. This CD is fun, intelligent, relaxing, un-restricted....its brilliant! I don't know what The Pancakes other CDs are like, but this one has certainly whetted my appetite to hear more.
If Dejay can release one album called "Stereo Radio / Right" and another complete album entitled "Stereo Radio / Left", by that alone she wins me over, by the pure cute audacity of Dejay's sense of fun! Go on, buy some sunshine, you certainly won't regret getting this! One thing, though, I think Dejay ought to have an album called "The Shrove Tuesday" tapes, that could be realized as a title for un-released demos! :)
Naraka 19 (DVD) (Hong Kong Version)2 people found this review helpful
November 5, 2007 Gillian's Survival Horror
I have been quite looking forward to seeing this after I chance came across it recently on a web site connected to Twins. Certainly having watched it all this weekend, I would recommend getting this. Somewhat complex and arcane regarding some of the symbolic and deeper elements, its all a decently made and effective movie. I'd certainly recommended it to Gil's fans, as its one of the better horror genre films she has help make lately, and also she looks lovely than ever as a mild goth girl. Gillian certainly performs her role as Rain with a good sense of emotional psychosis and paranoiac stamina, too, considering this role, and I think by this film's 'cult' nature, she will grab some new fans here as Rain. I haven't heard of the Internet novel "Naraka 19" this is based on , but this film does seem a decent job by the look and depth of it. Initially, I thought it was going to be more teen oriented, which is true to a degree, but its more thematic of the surreal than over emphasizing the teen element. Its also quite Japanese anime in style, and reflects similar animes out there in the Goth paranoia-pseudo-religious mode. For some of you Twins fans, though - horror wise, there is one quite nasty scene near the beginning (although not fully shown), but otherwise in the gore department, its all rather tame.
Well, the question here is "Do you know what the 19th gate of Hell, is?". Well, 'stressful' came to mind and 'probably more hotter than sunnier climes', but certainly not the place for fairies, thats for sure. But Dora the Explorer Rain, here, opts for the difficult narrow path of self soul illumination, by trying to save her lost friends who happen to have fell into Hell playing an SMS phone game. (Mobile phones, eh?)
The "Naraka 19" levels are played out in a cyber version of a shamanic type ritual, but appropriated by the modern technology of the mobile phone. This is the update on the ancient shaman rituals of dance and trance. A watered down esoteric 'trip' of 18 ways to reach a fully un-revealed soul (or a bit like 18 rounds of golf, but with more hassle!) Also, being a horror game, it relates to the inner worlds of video games - like an 18 leveled "Tomb Raider" or its sister game "Project Eden", where 4 characters descend down into a hell within a high rise block.
The CGI visual effects of "Naraka 19"s hell are impressive, too. Swirling dark dream-mares of rusted metal and time lapsed clouds, within an underworld of industrial decay and isolation (a wee bit strange, this) - all making a satisfactory scare trip (and 'trip' being the operative word!). I found the scene where Rain is at the bottom of a large subterranean well effective, and where human arms break and protrude through the four walls, as if Rain is trapped within a deep asylum (reminded me of the "Thin Wall" music video by Ultravox). At the beginning, Rain uses her phone viewer panel to scan surrounding doors that enter the 1st level, revealing flaming entrances in the phone panel, but beyond are dormant gray obelisks, and this too, kicks off the visuals to come - and the whole film does have imaginative effects. Falling knives and hell dogs included.
Although this film suggests a literal 'hell', the 19 surreal hells are more psychologically Distopian, showing fragmented negative human behaviors that are compartmentalized into surreal zones (or levels), 'visited' by Rain as she attempts to reach this mystical and fabled 19th level. (Based on Chinese scripts and similar to Dante's Inferno). Its quite psychological in a Jung and Freudian way of symbolism, too, and a lot of religious symbols (and doctrine) are thrown at you at mind blowing speeds, which can overwhelm. But the main plot is quite simple: a tragic love story. In fact the test of this film/game is not to get lost in the demented imagery of 'hell' itself, but work out the psychological and emotional nature of Rain, that is the key to understanding the film. The religious subtexts are more cosmetic than heavily thematic, but fused together to make this film interesting and thoughtful.
Rain travels, one by one, these Re-Cycle, Silent Hill, Dantesque realities, as she attempts to challenge the game and rescue the suicidal victims of her three dorm pals. They had fallen victim to the SMS game to 'find out what was beyond the 18th level', and received it (supposedly) from a male student, who once occupied the same dorm room. Rain's friends get trapped into bad karma levels, which illuminates their own personal guilts, and awakens them as if they're constantly sleepwalking thorough their normal lives. The game, or zones of hell, reveal their personal conditions and by not facing them off, they get trapped in a hell level.
If you like all of this, I would also recommend the Japanese anime "Serial Experiments Lain", where the cyber forms are within the Internet instead of playing out a game via the mobile phone technology. Again, I recommend "Naraka 19", its all interesting stuff and keeps you watching, and although fractured and 'weird', it does all make sense in the end. Its that theme of madness again, and you never get assured grounding of exactly 'where' you are in this - in a level of hell...in the dorm.....in reality as we know it? Although you may need to watch this a second or third time to get more out of it. Gil does well, too, and is proving to be a good actress by each movie.
The DVD technical bits are:-
Boxed Slip Case
Region ALL - (DVD 9)
Extras: Making of (Mandarin subtitles - none removable / No English Subtitles)
Trailer: (Mandarin and English combo subtitles - none removable)
For Twins fans: At the very end someone makes a guest appearance you should recognize. Yeah! I guess you know its not Donny Osmond, though, so maybe I need not say that. Anyway....GAME ON!
The Railroad (DVD) (DTS) (Limited Edition) (Korea Version)(1)Our Price: US$19.99List: US$25.99Save: US$6.00 (23%)3 people found this review helpful
October 30, 2007 Railroad of Real Life
One of the most interesting words said in this film was when Man Soo, the tube way driver asks his passengers over the intercom "Which is the fastest way to get to your destination? By train? By aeroplane? No, its by traveling with the one you love, which gets you there the quickest". Absolutely! Not that, unfortunately, did Man Soo really have such a companion himself, as he was isolated by the monotony of his everyday job. Still, his words are poignant, by how traveling on a journey, time is seemingly lessened by the warm company of someone you love. Just like life's journey can be with added companionship. But, in this movie this is quite the contrary, as main characters Man Soo and Hannah, don't actually speak to each other on the train journey they both take to Gyeongui Station. Its only when they arrive there, that they get to know each other and their weighted problems both of them are carrying.
Although "The Railroad" is about two separate people facing personal domestic traumas, and boarding the same train to Gyeongiu at separate stations, this film can also be seen as symbolic and philosophical of Korea's own present time and political climate, reflecting from these two characters and their mirrored stories, that are also based on experiences of director and writer Heung Sik Park when he was a student in Germany. In fact the relating German themes (Hannah being a part time German literature tutor) reflect the ever nearing reunification of the two Koreas. Still, the main story plot is driven by a psychological narrative, showing both Man Soo and Hannah's recent separate lives in flash back installments, as they travel to Gyeongui, revealing their individual plights and reasons why they eventually decided to board this train. Man Soo at Seoul Central Station, to start a vacation to get over a trauma he experienced at his job as a subway driver, and Hannah over a rejection by a married man she was having an affair with. Both eventually finding a partial solace in each other, when they finally meet at Gyeongui Station (the end of the line) near the DMZ towards N Korea - opening their hearts and sharing their time.
Its all a good movie this, with quite a bit of food for thought. It tackles subtexts of the nature of the daily toil, the mediocrity of everyday life - domesticity of work (as in flash backs regarding Man Soo's subway driver shifts), but also the nature of single hood and marriage. With Man Soo, its his daily shifts - portrayed here vividly by the movie's viewpoint. He sets three alarm clocks for his shift times, his father prepares his daily breakfast, he then travels to work, initiates procedures for his daily rota, and eventually hits the subway for his daily shift.....real life. But his life is in a vacuum without anyone he can really love, apart from one mysterious girl who works at a magazine kiosk, who often gives Man Soo a magazine and cakes to eat, when he reaches her station platform. With Hannah, her life is entwined with a past colleague she first met in Berlin as a German Literature student, but although he gets married and settles down, she continues to see him at the college she works at, and has a continual affair with him. This is another aspect in this film about the marriage aspect of 30 something single women, where an affair is a substitute for the security of everyday companionable life. Hannah wants to wake up with a man each morning, but likes to continue her independence by living alone in a flat. "The Railroad" indicates how people are sometimes locked out of what is referred to 'normal' life ambitions and fulfillments and a life that seems complete. So Hannah opts for the more negative security of an extra marital affair (not another S Korean film affair. eh? You wait ages for one, then several all come at once!) with dire consequences. So, these two people in this story, albeit their encounters and fulfillments in job and home, strive togetherness and hover outside that grace of companionship. Needing a man to share with (Hannah), and needing a woman to love and mature with (Man Soo), but indecisive to the point that they don't really know what they wish for. So a tragedy and a wrong bring them both together at Gyeongui Station, to maybe meet that indecision.
As a movie It is quite slow paced and cruises along leisurely (with occasional moments of drama), especially at the conclusion with the lengthy emotional monologues and subject dialog. But its intellectual elements are overall very beneficial to what I see as this film saying something on various levels. The ending seemed a bit open ended, that you are never sure if Hannah or Man Soo fall in love and get married, or where their 'rail line' goes next. But its a positive outcome, and most elements of an interesting picture don't always included everything on a plate. You need to leave this journey and peruse the situations at leisure after watching it all. Certainly the metaphors are here about Korean re-unification. Signified by the Gyeongui railway line here, that was put on hold during political situations, and until recently, this new rail link has been re-introduced leading to possibilities of kindredness for the future of the two Koreas. The two separate and isolated characters here symbolically represent that line, too, maybe. I'll have to leave all that intellectual thinking to the experts, though. But I think a N and S re-unification could happen next decade, all being well. One thing to mention, though, about the quit awesome sub way scene shots where your looking from Man Soo's driver cab into the mouth of the tunnels, reminded me of the opener scenes to the excellent Chinese movie "Spring Subway".
As for the disks. The second DVD supplement also features and additional English subtitled short movie of the director's called "A Day", which seems to add to the work ethics of the main movie regarding un-employment difficulties in S Korea. Also the Production Announcements showing, includes some familiar actor chums of Tae Young's, I think, with Ji Soo Kim, Hyo Jin Kim and Geung Young Moon amongst the viewing audience. Certainly another S Korean definite here, albeit the slow pace, and definitely worth adding to your collection.
Twins Party (Vinyl LP Version) (Limited Edition)2 people found this review helpful
October 29, 2007 Super Glossy Card Insert!
Just a quickie to tell all you guys who may have hesitated in purchasing this record version yet, that its not the folded poster that is the main reason to add this item to your collection, but the lovely glossy inset card which is really nice this time. The insert is similar to the the CD versions, but there are more photos of C and G not featured in the CD inserts and more of a fold out - all at the larger LP size......its great!
Diva, Ah Hey!1 people found this review helpful
October 26, 2007 She Who Dares....sings!
The essence of this film is a sort of innocent Cinderella to Star Girl tale, as Ah Hey (Charlene) leaves her mundane life as a fishmonger's daughter, and with her sympathetic father's blessing, decides to make her dream of becoming a pop canto singer come true (Charlene working in bus woman's holiday mode), due to her cousin having connections with a top entertainment director. Its all pastiche and jibes about the entertainment industry in general, with lots of tongue in cheek stuff about performers (both singers and actors), but certainly reflecting the pitfalls and competition of striving in the pop arena. Betrayals and jealousies also raise their heads here. Charlene, though, performs as a cute and lovable good Samaritan type, as she gets taken under the directorial and mentor tutorship of Sha Li (Jordan Chan), her entertainment director. But she additional helps the love lorn Shawn Yue's Wing character develop a relationship with the singer Shadow (played by Niki Chou), and generally trys to favor the positive angle at life, with all the people in the industry surrounding her. Jordan Chan is great as the deadpan director Sha Li (I just cannot forget JC's excellent role in "Escape from HK Island"!), and also in part, his character hints at a possible relationship with Ah Hey in the process. Although, he has past love issues with a former singer client named Ice, who, Ah Hey tries to help him sort out. Shawn Yue is really impressive as Shadow's slightly un-hinged chauffeur, Wing (having a slightly loose wing nut here, too), but also shows a coy and affectionate heart for Shadow (who prefers to make people laugh and dreams of becoming a stand up comedian, than sing and record a load of ballads). Due to her half hearted approach, Shadow performs off key as a singer, and could lose a record contract for her promoters. To ensure that she can deliver, Ah Hey, after being discovered a good singer in a recording studio take, is then requested to perform as a ghost singer and record her own voice for recordings for Shadow. All this possibly jeopardizing Ah Hey's chances of becoming a singer in her own right. The drama!
The main aspect that struck me about all of this, as a film parody of singer stardom, makes it open towards reflections of what singers and performers, like The Twins experience themselves (live concert mishaps or re-recorded overdubs, etc. It happens!) than it all being a tale about a bedroom singer eventually becoming the Queen of Song, reaching for coveted echelons of stardom. Niki Chou's Shadow character also mirrors this 'overdub betrayal' of a top Star Singer, not actually providing a proper 'live' singing vocal, and reflects the 'bad performance' issue of a singer. But looking at Ah Hey, when first faced with a live audience, could have given a nervous shaky song output, and get judged upon it, but that wouldn't be her free voice at that specific time - but a false voice of nervous emotion. Ah Hey, does perform well, however, but the theme of this show suggests singing prowess, in itself, is the only objective to becoming acceptable as a singer/artist. Not that I think this is how it should be, as expressive and talented artists who don't have the greatest of voices in a technical sense, nevertheless, do have high inspirational gifts and merits to give - albeit not pitch perfect. Karaoke proves the point in that. The competition aspect, too, with the fine art of singing, gets churned out too much like a mad machine, leaving a lot of expressive young singers pushed aside in the treadmill of pedantic agenda listed requirements, for the music industry. Showcased here, somewhat, in Sha Li's industry arena. Thats why I have also found it important to appreciate 'indie' music talent since the 80s, for its fresh output and less demanding requirement. Not that this effects me with appreciating the Twins (I love them), as their unique blend and personality shine through that veneer of the glitz and glamor of plastic stardom - and thats just as important as singing per se. Certainly Charlene is merited with a lovable and honest individuality, also reflected here as Ah Hey's spunky and charismatic girl with a heart, and her expression of love in song - which can be a giving to those on the outside of the theater goldfish bowl. The Twins care about who love them, and makes them more likable beyond only the musical output, which galvanizes their musical art into soul. Couldn't an indie song express this hardship of a voice striving to be heard as art, too, aside to a song only echoing the need for a love to be heard?
In this, however, Shadow appears only in image as a Top Singer, and her heart isn't really into what she supposed to do - sing. Overall, this movie is a very entertaining one, with fine performances and some various cameos included and a pause for thought on what could be more important in the singing world. Its not obvious, though, you have to look for it. The song used in this film is "Viva Ah Hey" which can be found on the Twins album "Touch of Love" with a Charlene solo and a Twins duo version. For the technical bits, this DVD is a nice slip case edition, now with two separate DVDs instead of the previous flip-me-over DVD10, with one disk showcasing the movie and the other including the usual extras of Making Of, Trailer, Photos and interviews, but no English subtitles to the extras, though. Excellent for the price (although Charlene's priceless, right?) and definitely worth seeing!
House Of Fury (2005) (DVD) (Hong Kong Version)2 people found this review helpful
October 25, 2007 Gillian Rocks The House!
There's not much I can really add to what as been said about this film, as all the verdicts about this light action thriller comedy banter is spot on. One things for sure, though, that if you haven't seen this yet, I'd recommend you give it a go, as its certainly not short of high energy entertainment in this vibrant action piece. Mainly another pastiche of things HK martial arts, its, however, well delivered (with the art of choreographer Yuen Yo Ping, who as also done "The Matrix" and "Kill Bill") especially with the verve and fun of Gillian and Stephen Fung, showing some nifty action sequences at the latter part. Not exactly the red clad outfit depicted on the cover promotional artwork photos, though, as I imagined and anticipated before watching this, that this reflectively red suited outfit were all going to be members of an elite fighting group, somewhat in the vein of an anime spoof. Well not quite that, as the only fighting team thick in the action here are Anthony Wong (with some unforgettable and quite classic fight scenes mid way through), Gillian and Stephen fighting the bad guys in this comedy action thriller. Charlene makes an appearance at the beginning, after Teddy Yu's (Anthony) 007 skit with a bunch of ninjas, but mainly only supports this film through some of the middle bits, taking more of a back seat this time and letting Twin colleague Gillian take the reigns in all of this. Charlene is more passive here - well except for a cigar scene! The screen writer, director and plot are actually more letting her, too, but you know what I mean - its pretty well Gillys show here. So, alas, due to having only one Twin thruster on the go here, this isn't going to be a 'Twins Effect' action fest as such. Gillian certainly provides some remarkable movements in this, though, and is one feisty and spunky martial arts fighting damsel, not quite as in distress as damsels normally go.
Overall, maybe not a classic movie of its sort, but ironically by the very enjoyable and fluid action sequences, and with some memorable comedy antics and touches of charismatic humor from Anthony, Stephen, Gillian and Daniel, all makes this a very watchable and re-watchable film! Anthony Wong seeing off a group of ninjas with a skeleton's arm in the mode of Fist of Fury, has got to be worth seeing for this alone! Gilly is superb in the action bits (I know I've said that, but I want to say it again) and with such gusto, she provides a lot of the fury here. Your entertainment should be easily satiated, I'm sure, and as long as you don't have expectations of a true grit martial arts movie, or like the more heavier versions with the fighting sequences, you should throughly enjoy this.
One last thing, Charlene's French kissing scene could have been taken a bit further though. Eh, I don't mean in the literal sense, but with the cigar breath gag scene with Stephen not being fully implemented into what could have been a classic funny. In fact, gosh, I wonder who Charlene is trying to be here - Clint Eastwood? Oooh, go on, make your day and get this film!
Secret (DVD) (Hong Kong Version)2 people found this review helpful
October 22, 2007 For Beautiful Secrets
One opener here : As you get Rain out of Sky, does this mean that Rain's tears were also falling from the eyes of Sky? Hmm, right, any way, what's this film about?
One thing I certainly don't want to mention here is much of the plot, as it can be a serendipitous discovery by knowing as least about the synopsis as possible, although I will say that "Secret" is one fantastical movie and a definite recommendation for romantics and fantasy fans (even Harry Potter, possibly!) - as these two genres blend subtly and nicely here. Mostly romantic in essence, its story is about two student musicians who fall in love at an art school, only in this case a romance with a supernatural difference. It features plenty of classical oriented music as to be expected, concerning the school of music backdrop, and even features a scene of new boy Jay's piano skills tested out in a 'battle piano' initiation, which is certainly a high light scene, and one of pyromaniac fast key tinkling. (In fact if you are a student piano musician, this film could be up well up your street). Jay Chou (as Jay) and Kwai Lun-Mei (as Rain) are finely and aesthetically beautiful as the two romantics here, and along with pretty support actress Alice Tzeng (as Sky), you get one of the prettiest casts in film. Kwai Lun-Mei is probably the most character projected out of the cast, though, as her expressivenesses and emotion pallet is more showcased, but I certainly enjoyed all involved in this. One thing came to mind with the characters of Rain and Sky, that inevitably as romantic films go, you get a melodramatic aspect and by both these girls fancying Jay, it was interesting the name associations of these girls. In fact, maybe Jay should have been thought of as Final Fantasy VII's Cloud! Anthony Wong performs perfectly again as a great actor doing his bit, here as a seemingly harsh taskmaster of a music teacher, with humorous and droll antics.....on and off screen :) Its a pity, really, that Anthony doesn't perform in more studious or classic roles (suggested by this and "Mr Cinema") alongside the action and comedy ones - as his talent his excellent.
"Secret" certainly turns the plot at the latter part, by Dali type twists to the laws of physics, and its thematic seems to suggest how love can be given sometimes to somebody even outside of time, and if a person's life was blighted in some way (emotional lack of confidence or certain physical attributes), a gift, a mystery or a 'secret' could be possibly rendered to that 'someone' in some way, by invisible aspects that none of us can really comprehend. I found this sudden introduction of bending the laws of physics right at the end, though, a bit too left field by its non linear approach to a more linear story. Interesting food for thought, though. Its similar to S Korean movie "For Eternal Hearts", in this sense and although these two movies have different story plots, the fantasy theme of transcendental matters of the heart is where these two movies cross gossamer paths, as do the loving hearts of Rain and Jay in "Secret".
Its not perfect this, but a beautiful fantasy, and reminded me of Di.....another additional S Korean fantasy romance that I cannot really mention, but certainly not one to miss. If you watched and liked "For Eternal Hearts", go for this and if you have already seen this film, I would definitely recommend you go and bag yourself a copy of FEH, as these two films are heartfelt gems. The DVD is a really nice special edition that comes with the normal DVD slip case edition, photo cards and a small workable musical box, all housed in a nice presentation box to show off to your friends (or freak out your sparsely shelved minimalist chums).Certainly a nice present for the up and coming holiday festivities. Great transfer, nice extras, but unfortunately not English subtitles for extras this time.
To the point bit: recommend for fans of Jay C, romance, fantasy, music and lashings of spiritual hope. Don't miss this!
Wonder Women (2007) (DVD) (Hong Kong Version)2 people found this review helpful
October 17, 2007 Informative HK Handover Film
Although I anticipated a somewhat more lighter movie here, considering what the cover could have suggested (an alternative relationships comedy?), this dramatized account of personal mid life crises and HK life, within the past 10 years from 1997 up to this present year, is one finely scripted and highly watchable movie. Its an all ages film, too, so everyone should appreciate the tone and quality of the screen play, and the added aspects of actual news reels being interpolated, showcasing numerous HK events throughout the 10 years, makes this a nice historically added bonus.
I've certainly been enlightened by watching these small number of Handover movies, and this one I found to be the most informative of the bunch. Its certainly well produced and filmed (with an excellent DVD transfer!) and along with Gigi Leung's fine acting as the Super Woman FO, and a varied supporting cast including the spirited canto singer Fiona Sit, all makes it worth viewing. Fiona does a fashion take, mid way through, at the behest of an unscrupulous admirer. The film's main focus, though, is the financial crises, of debt, staff redundancies and real estate crashes of the late 90s, considering the monetary anchored main character, Joy Shing (Gigi), being a Financial Officer. The frightening SARS infection is also mentioned at the time it struck in 2003. Paralleling all this, this movie also showcases the strong roles of women in society as the additional breadwinners, and the stresses and demands of work, motherhood and survival in tough and testing times. Joy Shing certainly gets trailed throughout the plot, by her own personal mid-life crises, and although the realities she faces certainly affect people this way, I did, however, feel that the plot leaned too much towards the melodramatic - by the influx of too many 'tragic events' flung into one person's lap. Joy certainly has a bag full of things happen to her! But, contrastingly, this film does have many light and funny moments (one female eccentric Hong Konger here is a bit of a card!) and it all ends on a high note by the finish, when the credits role.
Worth giving a try this, and probably one of the best HK handover films. Its history as well as drama, but also evaluates the strengths and logic of how HK people dealt with such difficult times, and how they strove to rise above them. For individuals as well as a nation, which of course is good for anyone to learn from. To top it off, this DVD is also region free, and features English subtitles for the Making of featurette, which is a nice bonus.
For Eternal Hearts (DVD) (Limited Edition) (Korea Version)(1)Our Price: US$19.99List: US$25.99Save: US$6.00 (23%)2 people found this review helpful
October 15, 2007 Continuum of Hearts
Firstly, I'll say straight away that this is one of the best movies I have watched this year, so far, and probably one of the most rewarding experiences you will have from a film! It has an unforgettable spiritual imaginativeness by the story, and its aftertaste will touch and remain with you for quite a while. It will be one of the most soulful S. Korean films you'll get this year. Its beautifully told and stirring, gentle and poetic, a magical ghost story, wrapped in a dream of transcendence. Or to be less poetic about it - its just bloody brilliant! Regarding Min Sun Kim's appearance here, too, and if you liked the mental challenges of "Memento Mori", this would also be for you. Although partly an intellectual 'thinker' of a movie, (relating to German romantic literature) and quite thought provoking, its simple story line is easy-going, and the fantastical aspects of this tale has a relevance to us all about love and mortality. What happens when loved ones have left us, can they remain somehow? Does love itself continue on in a person, into the future - into Eternity and outside of Time itself? Well, its all hinted within this, and you could have a dedicated blog site about the mysterious and transcendental aspects of this film. The love story itself, touches the nature of what happens when two people have died, only to relate themselves to other lost souls and for them to share their eternal dream (a givenance of love?), outside of time and space. Immediately when you see the two butterflies (of two human souls?) gently flying in transported harmony towards the screen at the introduction, the stories' fantasy element begins to be told, as Su Young relates his first love experience to a group of musician students at the university he teaches at. This fairy tale romance is then told in flash back fusion, and in a sublime and surreal thematic, as Su Young relates his charm for the enigmatic and romanticizing Pippa (Min Sun Kim), after an emotional outburst in his German literary class.
Regarding the supernatural elements, its a romantic ghost tale, but in the ethereal sense. Its a sleep world, a dream experience - veiled into a romantic fairy tale. It mentions the '49 days' period of grace after death aspect, that was similar featured in the "49 Days" HK movie. But although you get thought provoking out of time and space premise, its not done in any sort of obscure way, that would leave you wondering what on earth was going on. It all makes absolute sense when you reach the end - and it is essentially a love story. It was great to see Kyung Ho Jung again here, playing the younger part of Su Young, who is another very amiable guy, and fantastic to see Min Sun Kim back in cinema, too, as she is such a vibrant and spirited actress, that its a shame she isn't in many movies of late. She' s certainly a wasted talent by her absence, and it would be nice to see more of Min Sun in the future. There are some "Memento Mori" references that appear in this film, also, that I'm sure a lot will discover.
If you get this DVD, I can definitely say it will be one of the best Korean movies you will see this year. Although there is a slight cynical ending, the overall feeling you will be left with is of a warm heartfelt experience and a feel good ending. It all suggests a possible hope towards our mortality, and of how love can continue on, no matter what happens. It also has a nice added relevant twist to the plot, which makes it all more poignant to what is being told here. If you can really get your head (or maybe heart) around what the script is saying, you will be well rewarded by its meaning and fulfillment. Its also a movie you can return to, as the subtle nuances and detailed bits under the veneer, make it very re-watchable. The Sponge movie group along with KOFIC have come out with another gem of a movie here. This is one rare treat you just cannot afford to miss and which generally comes only once every blue moon. Don't just buy this, guys, - experience it, enjoy it and just never give it away - ever! This is almost a masterpiece!
Isabella (DVD) (Hong Kong Version)2 people found this review helpful
October 12, 2007 Isabella - Big Roles to Come!
If there is one thing you need to do before watching this film, is to make sure you have one good solid fill of nourishment or some edibles handy. Some kimchi, noodles, pizza, a bag of crisps...anything...to have at hand, as the food intake in this film is more prevalent than in some of the HK restaurant themed movies - and all this could make you hungry watching it. I only hope the film makers didn't starve the actors before commencing with their food scenes, so to get that more realistic and gritty reflection. Gritty this is, too, with the subject matter about a destitute bar prostitute named Yan, played with focus and almost perfection by Isabella Leong, claiming to be the long lost daughter of an ousted and corrupted police man, Shing, performed excellently by Chapman To.
Although partly set in seedy prostitute bars of Macua, a Portuguese settlement in China just before the handover in 1999, "Isabella" more or less portrays an odd tale about forbidden relationships by these two aforementioned needful souls, who are supposedly father and daughter, than a focus on prostitution itself. The pleasure skin is only the back drop to the relationships, and what happens sensually is all left off film (apart from an initial liaison with Yan and Shing), than graphic details expressed in the more darker movies like "Downfall" or Kim Ki Duk's "Bad Guy". This is more about ambivalent feelings regarding a corrupt cop and his relations with the prostitute Yan, after he finds out she his is daughter he thought had been aborted from his liaison with her mother in the past.
This film rates highly, certainly for the quality acting, which is impressive and Isabella Leong really does prove herself to be one of the finest actresses in recent films, and no doubt she cuts the mustard here by her fusion of a downcast soulless prostitute and at times a jovial, but highly strung girl. There is more to Isabella's observational pallet than posing and singing - and acting seems to be her future vocation. Just before I posted this, too, I read on a web site that Isabella L is also half Portuguese and also had quite an hard life upbringing in Macau in her childhood, after her father had died when she was very young - this is quite a hard back ground relating to the punch she gives for this film. Before this, I had only seen her in Oxide Pang's "Diary", by which of her small part in that, I still felt convinced that she should play a more solid and complete role like Yee, as that could be one awesome film to look out for in the future, if/when she does one. (Only supposing here, of course)
This movie is certainly a slow burner and the flow is at quite a moderate and sleazy pace. The camera work and photography is dream like and European ,and the Macau setting produces a sublime fire glow colour, with the contrasting poverty crumbling buildings and the strangely partly affluent characters (Shing sells a Rolex and Yan as a large female utility collection). Contrasts are also made by the ironic and emotional music provided, too! Considering the slow and dark ambiance of this film, quite a number of cameo players also appear, that are generally in more light hearted and standard dramas; Boy'z singer Steven Cheung, Jim Chim as a landlord who boots out Yan's dog Isabella, by Yan not paying the rent, and the food scoffing Anthony Wong, who seems he hasn't eaten for weeks on end. Chapman To is excellent as the culpable police man, and considering that his acting is well proven in comedy roles, he easily shifts into these more demanding roles. I was quite surprised that this was Chapman T's first full role (sorry that sounds like food again), and his focused and fused character here seems far from a debut. I was convinced he must have been in similar character parts before.
Expect a downcast watch with this, however, it is about bleak themes after all. But due to the acting and cathartic sequence of events, it is a top quality movie. Not the most lovable characters in Yan and Shing by their life choices, but an exercise in situations raising awareness to circumstances sometimes unavoidable.
The Peony Pavilion1 people found this review helpful
October 10, 2007 Rene's song is from "Harvest"
One thing that didn't know at the time I reviewed this film recently, was what album the song Rene Liu sang mid way through was from - either this film's OST (which seems to be completely unobtainable) or one of Rene's own albums. I have now discovered (by great surprise) that the song featured in this movie is from Rene's 2-CD album "Harvest" (CD 1 - track 6) after recently buying it from Yesasia. Sorry, though, that I don't know what the English track title translation is to the Mandarin.
This song is great, too. It really is a very emotionally captivating song and I just love the soaring melancholy and Rene's emotional singing! If you haven't seen this film, catch at least this song from it, and then go and buy the excellent "Harvest" CD. Really - its that good its an absolute gem!
Family Matters Special Edition1 people found this review helpful
October 10, 2007 Families DO Matter
Although the DVD cover shows a comical promotional photo, giving the strong impression of a full on comedy, it can be misleading as "Family Matters" is also a serious drama about family domesticity, unemployment and senility. It does, though, feature some funny humor, however, especially with the confused father Won Jo, as he keeps wandering off (and looking like a dancing version of Al Capone) or getting completely confused and attacking members of the household with a baseball bat! The blend of this added humor here, though, balances out what could easily have been a very serious 'kitchen sink' type pathos movie. Sang Hoon is an unemployed and aspiring script writer and wanna be movie director, but is so laid back in his approach to his art, that he frustrates and maddens his wife, Min Kyung. Not only by losing his thread at being a future convincing film director, but also by constantly losing Min Kyung's dementia suffering dad, when he takes him for daily walks. Due to the frictions between Sang Hoon and Min Kyung, that other added element in the form of the 'extra marital affair' also makes an appearance when Sang Hoon steers towards another affectionate heart.
The characters here all have conflicting concerns, that are met as the film progresses. Min Kyung is quite a brittle and snappish task master as a dance teacher at her local school, putting a young female student through the pressures of staging a dance show. This brittleness is related to Min Kyung losing her chances of becoming a professional dancer herself (a reflection of Sang Hoon needing to become a successful director), her senile father, looking after a young demanding son and her own past regarding her mother. (Massive hidden reasons of why a person can behave sometimes openly negative). Sang Hoon also likes to win over the affections of his wife, when he hopes that Min Kyung can relate to his goals of obtaining an interesting film project. Although at one stage, when he attempts to get showered and ready for liaisons with her, he instead distracts himself by playing his son's video game (adults playing kids games - really, whatever next.....whistle, whistle), getting himself locked out of the bedroom, after Min Kyung discovers him playing it.
The premise of this film is mainly about love and stability in a small family environment and regarding the fragile and frustrating circumstances of having to look after and care for an ill parent (in this case Min Kyung's senile dementia father). But its also about trying to marry and accomplish crucial goals within that environment and achieving the stability and consistency required, that can help to attain the essential provisions of a stable home foundation. Its tough here, as what bumbling Sang Hoon tries to accomplish (and he is funny here and there.....and he does try!), by becoming a professional script writer, gets stymied by the need to focus on an ill dependent father-in-law, his wife's trust of his goals and the importance of what that can have. It creates frictions and temptations with MK and SH, by all the stresses and strains of social survival. Its good how this movie focuses on what is really important in life - here 'family concerns', the essential glue that keeps people unified and together, by compassionate concern, love and bearing hardships (with added humor when possible, of course). So no matter what other trivial concerns there are, the real important factors in life are the love we have amidst our own lives.
"Family Matters" is a decent watch, if you do like domestic family dramas, and also laced here with a decent amount of quite funny humor. Its certainly not all serious, but does show how the frustration and absurdness of life can be, when the pressures on. Acting by the cast in this is well done, and I found that Ho Jung Kim, who plays Min Kyung, reminded me of fellow Blighty actress Zoe Wanamaker, similarly as she also as played an harassed family mother. The DVD cover suggests a comedy, and the taped to the wall husband and father of Min Kyung is very funny, but probably also the 'last straw' depiction of the house wife's revenge. This film all ends on a feel good lighter note, too. In this regard, "Family Matters", by the end of it all, certainly underscores the importance of them, and that they do matter, so, so much! Watch this if you liked the films "Solace" or "Family Ties".
Driving With My Wife's Lover (DVD) (Limited Edition) (Korea Version)(1)Our Price: US$28.99List: US$37.99Save: US$9.00 (23%)2 people found this review helpful
October 8, 2007 Anachronistic Passion Square
As I began watching this movie with its mischievous dry humored main theme and Tae Han (played excellently by Gwang Jeong Park) intricately cutting out a stamping seal, which he then suddenly inks and stamps vigorously an impression of an expletive word onto a paper form (which isn't darn or piffle), indicating disapproval of his wife's affair - I just knew I was in for a very dry humored treat from that 'word' go! This is brilliant, it really is and with this film's sharp wit and packed to the brim of visual funnies, I liked it similarly to the fallacious and wacky "A Bizarre Love Triangle", that also featured Eun Ji Jo here. I love Korean movies when they go for dry deadpan humor, and although relationship cheating isn't something I'm fan club member of, with all the great visual deadpan humor you get here, this is one extra marital affairs movie not to miss!
In this you follow the quirky and kooky Tae Han as he decides to hitch a lift home from Seoul with Joong Shik (Bo Seok Jeong), the taxi driver philander who is having an affair (and cheating on his own wife) with Tae Han's wife, but not letting Joong Shik realize he knows of his sordid affair with his wife. You then get a part road movie (first half of the film) with these two eccentric characters getting familiar with each other, and Tae Han constantly assessing Joong Shik's philandering ways, as JS drives and converses with various females on the route and speaks openly about his easy going attitudes to casual sex. (Also Indicating some car squeaking scenes to the sound of honeymooner's bed springs!) Tae Han and Joong Shik are like an 'odd couple' comedy act, playing into various oddball situations and eccentric whims. Like Joong Shik challenging Tae Han to a game of badminton (regarding their situation here, I nearly spluttered coffee everywhere when they suddenly played this! Symbol - Playing the Field?) after the taxi breaks down. They also get chased by a load of watermelons, rolling down a slopped roadway (apparently escaping off the back of a lorry?), which they catch some and eat by the road side. Another crazy aspect is when Joong Shik drives up to Tae Han's wife's house and covers his car in a multi colored blanket 'camouflage', as if to hide the fact he is a wife cheater. But the blanket suggests a loud eccentric style and makes him seem more the Philander of S Korea! Yep, its somewhat surreal this, and there is even a hen reference (I ain't going there!!) but as the script flows, it all moves along as a very funny dry (and sometimes black) comedy.
The other main player here is Eun Ji Jo, who as been in "Tears", "My Scary Girl", "Afrika" and "A Bizarre Love Triangle" and quite an actress who can play downright nutty parts, but also quite sensitive and gritty ones, too. She acts well here as the cheated wife to Tae Han's cheated husband, and if you have caught her role in "My Scary Girl", you know you can certainly expect a good performance from her. (She also reminds me facially of an old school acquaintance I knew years ago, funnily enough, albeit she was Caucasian and Eun Ji Korean Asian). Here, EJ plays the taxi driver's cheated wife, and together with Tae Han, forms the second segment of this film as the two betrayed ones getting to know each other. All three main actors are excellent, and I think this is easily another classic Korean movie. Its got a bit of a simple ending, and you don't really know where these two guys are really heading (as neither do they, so it seems) - its sort of you did it, I did it scenario. I thought that maybe the black and white ending was indicating (maybe) a nod towards "A Virgin Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors", due to Jeong Bo Seok being in this. Whatever the case, this is one fine and funny film concerning the cheater theme again - and I like this one! There is a bit of routy tooty at one point, so prepare for some bouncy springy bits! But for Korean cinema - this is great, great, great! Buy it - its another hit!
Twins Party (Version 2) (CD+DVD) (With Shopping Bag)
Twins Party (Version 2) (CD+DVD) (With Shopping Bag) DVD Region All(28)Our Price: US$27.292 people found this review helpful
October 3, 2007 Girls at their Best
Well, I'm not sure if this is the Twins best ever CD (maybe a best) as I have yet to hear the Twins back cataloge CDs, but this is one fine album, of which I found to be quite a tender and an emotional listen than the 'party' title may suggest. Otherwise, I'll leave it to ardent fans and connoisseurs to muse on which is the Twins best. This CD is very much a ballad album in the main, pulling your heart strings by the Twin's sweet angelic harmonics, apart from one or two, like the upbeat track 4, which is more a general pop ditty. Songs I found also, somewhat for me, to be Abbaesque in style, by the girl's harmonies and song chords used, but overall this is really one fine Twins album. Like most of your guys, I found the tracks "Sad Love Song" and the almost musical hall/operetta styled "Love of Prague" to be favorites, and Gillian's "Double the Impact" also having a nice melodic hook to it, with track 6 (on G's CD) also a nice emotional ballad. Charlene's "Black Horse" is encouraging, as she wrote part of this and its a good song, but I think you need to understand the lyrics more to this, to fully appreciate it (and I'm a thickie with the Canto!). Its all sound semaphore, for me! I bought both CDs, and overall as a complete set with this 'together again' version of the album, (which I have, cough, bought as well, actually), I cannot find a track I don't like, really. It's nice and light I for me, considering I also listen to quite serious dark synth stuff - and an alternative, refreshing change. This album also encouraged me to listen to other Canto artist CDs of various music types - so I seem to have been Cantoed, right? :)
Yep, a good album, and if you ever wanted to try the Twins in music aside to the movies, this wouldn't be a bad place to start. Its refreshing, sweet, emotive and most songs have good pleasant hooks, that can stay tunefully in your head. I've been spinning both CDs regularly now (I have only just ordered Version 2) and I like it more by each play. Packaging ain't all bad, ya know, as you get a folded perforated lyric card inside each, with pictures of the respective Twin to each CD, and the covers are album vinyl record size (well almost) card sleeves - so collectible. (Tip here - don't throw away your gold and silver labels). Thanks Twins, for your album, I found it to be a real treat, and more mature approaches like this, your future albums should only get even better. Incredible that you can do all this, considering all the movies you do, too!
Muoi: The Legend Of A Portrait (DVD) (Special Edition) (Korea Version)(2)Our Price: US$19.99List: US$25.99Save: US$6.00 (23%)2 people found this review helpful
October 1, 2007 A Cursed Canvas
When I purchased the OSTs of both "Muoi" and "Evil Twin" recently at Yesasia, the first thing that struck me arriving to together like this, was looking at both CD covers and considering the imagery only, it wouldn't be unusual to think that this movie was the Evil Twin (as Jo An and Ye Ryun look similar on the cover) and that the "Evil Twin", with a sinister Sadako clone standing by a portrait, was this movie about Muoi's legend portrait. Okay, a bit of useless information, but it came to mind and although these are two quite different films, there are some parallel aspects regarding a cursed portrait. Likewise, anticipating watching "Muoi", I'm coincidently immersed in a ghostly computer game, regarding a writer who adopts a Victorian mansion to pen a second novel, only to locate an age old curse within the house, and likewise in "Muoi - Legend of the Portrait" here, Jo An plays a writer, Yoon Hee, who travels to Vietnam to research her new novel about an age old 100 year curse of a woman named Muoi, who had died under tragic circumstances. In some ways this film could also be more the nastier twin of these portrait films, by the more grimmer bits this has over the milder (although well produced) "Evil Twin".
As this movie goes, its not all bad, and kept me equally immersed this Friday night gone, and I really enjoyed it all. The story is solid, the fright parts are immediate, the music is intensely thematic and foreboding and with a plot line that doesn't leave you hanging around with dry bits of nonsense, it all flows into a tight none meandering story line, keeping you engrossed throughout the 95 minutes. It doesn't push the horror cliches much either (well, not until the end, anyway) and the period costumes featured are nice in this, (Jo An and Ye Ryun look lovely) with a welcoming addition of the Vietnam backdrop as main setting. Performances are good, specially with the two Korean ghost queens from the "Horror at Girl's School" series of Jo An (Wishing Stairs) and Ye Ryun Cha (Voice), together here to scare the bottoms off us again.
This is certainly another ringu/grudge type movie, though, (even set in Vietnam) and the film makers have played into this theme than tried to avoid it, but this time its more the ringu curse motif, regarding Muoi's evoked cursed portrait, similar to the video tape of the ringu movie, than the imagery of an haunted vengeful Sadako, back bending her way into terror (eh, again, not until the end). "Muoi" also features a cursed countdown, where similarly five days are counted to the 15th lunar day of the month, a numerical date Muoi died on, and relative to viewing the portrait like it was seeing the video tape in the "Ring". No doubt the influencing ringu/grudge format, but like the Korean horror TV series "Coma", it still comes across as a decent watch, and the motifs (cursed portrait, deadly countdown) are threaded into the film well, for it all to be an enjoyable (and somewhat scary) viewing. Its also only fair to say, that the bunch of ghostly horror movies from S Korea this year, have all been certainly finely crafted productions - ("Epitaph" and "Black Room" getting top slot) - and fullfilling the spooky ambiance, that Korean films do well with, but just a wee short of the sweet spots of excellence found in "A Tale of Two Sisters" and "Phone". But, if you liked "Ryung/Ghost" (director Tae Kyeong Kim's film also), "Cello" and "Scary Hair (aka The Wig)" you should definitely like this one.
Still, although well performed and paced, it all gets a bit erratic when you reach the 'Lack of a Subtle Ending' conclusion by the nature of Muoi's revenge. In fact, the ending is as subtle as an in your face ghost ride at the fun fair, and I'm sure a number of viewers will roll their eyes skywards, as if they had just heard a rehash of a tired old joke for the umpteenth time. Although the ending is satisfactory and fits into the mold of the ringu frame set, its a pity it had to hammer home its ending as it does, as the premise of "Muoi" is interesting, with a solid story background. The character of Muoi could have been treated with a little more richer fabric on to her persona, instead of making it all credible that a mistreated woman like Muoi would have to have an high octane killer Terminator Sadako machine instinct of revenge (asta la vista, baby!), by the finish - its all the woman scorned seeking vengeance....again.
As for the Epilogue...I couldn't believe it! I mean, this is me here in the main, as it relates to the actors in the "Magic" series I've seen lately, and I nearly swallowed my late night snack whole, when 'it' happened again. What do I mean? Don't want to give the game away, but for those who have seen "Evil Twin" and with Jin Woo Yang getting his 'ghost treatment' near the finale, fellow "Magic" actor Joon Lee here, also gets similar treatment! Deja vu or what! Is this a case of filmic parallelism or are all of the rest of the cast from "Magic" going to be seen to get this form of 'swept away' treatment in future horror flicks? I mean, Jo Won Uhm (also in Magic) is to cameo in "Epitaph" on DVD soon, and is she...no, surely not! Magic moments these ghost films. But "Muoi", yes, its good and certainly worth adding to your collection.
Dorm (DVD) (DTS Version) (Hong Kong Version)2 people found this review helpful
September 25, 2007 By the Dorm's Early Fright!
Although this film shifts from the horror/ghost boundary into social awarenesses, it becomes embellished for it in this case, as additional social elements about child education and friendships, are more befitting and rewarding in "Dorm" at the conclusion, than if this movie had been a straight forward horror. So, in essence, although this is a very haunting and dark dreamlike experience, its also a very human heartfelt story, too. At the beginning, you straight away feel you are going to watch an interesting plot line, as the boy Chatree (played excellently by Chalee Trairat) is sent to a foreboding dormitory within his school semester period, to facilitate his stern father's wishes to further educate him, due to his poor school records and preferred TV viewing. This emotional and intricately filmed introduction of Chatree's parents preparing to take him to the dorm, with Chatree under a polite form of duress, anticipates the foreboding scenes to come and immediately grabs your attention. When the family eventually drive and reach the dorm itself, you then anticipate all the dread Chatree would have, as he enters the bleak, haunting looking blue-gray exterior and the regimented interior of the sleep room, producing all the isolated feelings he would endure there. Chatree, though, eventually meets up with a group of boys, who try to scare him at night in the large sleep room, with ghost tales about previous dorm inhabitants; a girl who had committed suicide and walks the halls at night, sounds of howling dogs within the toilets - and a boy who had mysteriously died in a swimming pool incident, all told and reflected by the sudden jumps, howls, mood music and eeriness of the night filled dorm. And this film deliveries with the haunting visuals - this institutionalized edifice could easily be found in the life vacant griminess of a Silent Hill, and the dark hued atmosphere here is near the ambiance of that titular horror game/movie (I could well imagine a Dorm Map in the game now). But this isn't an 'evil' ghost story, but more an emotionally structured, and sympathetically endearing social tale, of forced isolation and neglect. Chatree is thrust into this cold cloistered setting and robbed of the school friends he wished to be with, by his harsh and supposedly well meaning father, who only wants his son to study harder. But this is also about a trapped ghost within the dorm that only Chatree can communicate with, and of the ghost's own death relating to an incident at the dorm. (I don't want to say much about the ghost, but the young actor who plays him, looks a lot like a young Robbie Williams who was once in boy band Take That).
The group of boys Chatree meets are also quite a set of characters. Initially, they try to scare him with ghost tales and seem like emotional bullies, but a loose sort of bond ship emerges as they all become closer by familiarity, amidst their daily circumstances. It has an endearing humor as well, like when Chatree shows the ghost boy his video game hand held, near to where the boys are playing a game of soccer, for them to stop and wonder (as only Chatree can see the ghost) if he is talking to himself - only for one of the more subdued of the bunch to reply drolefully "I always talk to myself , too" with the boys turning their gazes onto him. The actress, too, who pays the oppressed headmistress (Jintara Sukapat) is another crucial acting feature in this.
The cinematography is one of the best features here, and by the cold and dank colour hues of the dorm, add vividly the peculiarity of isolation and fear the dorm reflects (being alone in an alien environment away from friends and family) giving a visual feeling of dreamlike haunting, rarely captured in ghost movies of this type. The boy actor who plays Chatree performs convincingly, too, by the plight of his troubled loneliness (until he meets the ghost that is), reflecting the feelings we can all have, when placed in such alien environments with nobody you know. Human beings are by nature communicative creatures, but become inverted in such controlling places as the dorm. The haunting, though, in this is more down to earth and away from the fantasy horror of the usual type, and by its nature can get more under the skin than if it was just a 'jump out of your seat' ghost girl on the prowl vengeance horror. The fact that it is also set in Thailand with its own haunted past consciousness, also underscores its themes. Like the Korean movie "The Forgotten Child: Shin Sung Il is Lost" it touches the theme of stricture towards children by the essence of the forced education here, like parallel in the religious forced theme in the Korean movie. This is a very rewarding film, as its main end game is about love and friendship, that are the two most important things a human being can have, and as a human story, this is far more rewarding than merely a dark screamer about 'wicked ghosts'. Highly recommended.
The Road2 people found this review helpful
September 24, 2007 The Road of Life Experience
If there is one sure positive feeling you will get from this movie is relating to the beautiful, albeit rugged, Korean scenery that is displayed here - mountainous regions, meandering hills, snow covered landscapes and the long distance takes of two people walking amongst these vistas, is in itself one great chill out experience. But where there is a simple aesthetic, there is the more tragic story within the surface beauty and interwoven into this picturesque is one interesting and rewarding movie. About the plight of a blacksmith Tae Seok, who after meeting a young woman needing assistance to travel to her home for her father's funeral, assists her on her travels and begins to reflect on the past bitter sweet aftertastes of one of his old linen trader friends, who happens to be the father of the woman. These two people then take an emotional 'road journey' together to the linen trader's home, resulting in difficult and bitter emotional past memories, as both their own individual pasts are brought to the surface and revealed to one other. A sharp and rugged tale set in 1970s Korea, it tells this story in interspersed flash back events and of how Tae Seok had struggled to make ends meet and sacrificed his married life that had led to conflicting circumstances and an unfortunate perceived betrayal.
For one this movie is like a spiritual journey concerning the road metaphors on the reflections of a person's past life (road) and memories and mortality. It shows this in the opener and closing parts, showing Tae Seok walking along the meandering rugged hills across the physical landscape that was there in his own past, and conjuring the memories back to him. In another way, it shows the self sufficiency that was so necessary to those living in this region in 70s Korea, and of how traditional tradesmen and women like Tae Seok, tried to survive against the odds of industrialization. One aspect of this film I found interesting, also though, was the actress who played the part of the young woman (in the red clothing and waring a smiley badge) as she looks so uncannily like actor Ji Tae Yu from "Traces of Love". So much that you could easily pass her off as his twin sister. I'm not kidding and they're aren't related (I don't think), but its amazing how she resembles him, unless its my face recognition. This is another of the Sponge releases of indie type movies that have so far all been very well made films and this one is too. This time a film reflecting Chang Ho Bea's earlier movies from the 80s and 90s, this film also would be more recommended for fans of this director/actor, or if you liked the films of Im Kwon Taek and of his "Sopyonje" movie - or even some of the Spectrum releases like "Portrait of Our Youth" etc. Highly recommended.