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Mizuno is the Best
Miki Mizuno shows off a variety of talents in this movie, among them are cute military uniform, kung fu fighting, detective work, English speaking, and leading the incompetent American army by their nose. Now, if the movie just had a coherent plot, it would complete the experience, unfortunately, it lacks this last element...
There are bits of clues throughout the movie, watch carefully, and one will discover the truth. Alternatively, just watch Mizuno-chan and forget about the hopeless plot.
Bullets Over Substance
There have been enough reviews about the plot of this movie, so I will skip the plot and dive right into the movie. As a whole, I am very disappointed - I was expecting very good entertainment value impeccable plot and logic, what I got was a lousy remake of well-known Hollywood concepts and a cheesy love story that wouldn't fly.
Allow me to take the movie apart... MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW
Why can't the South Korean army shoot straight? A whole army of "sharp shooters" with automatic weapons can't outshoot a single guy with a pistol? I can expect that concept from some cheesy Hollywood action flicks, but not a "revolutionary" movie like Shiri.
How the heck did Kim and her commander escape an army of soldiers? By taking a simple hostage? And then no one managed to follow them? And Kim was able to calmly take public transportation without changing her disguise when her picture was broadcasted on TV?
I can go on and on about all the plot holes. They have severly damaged the believability of the movie. I am not impressed.
Ngo joh ngan gin do gwai (2002)
Great Romantic Comedy Movie
A wonderful romantic commedy starring the ever lovely Sammi Cheng. It combines romance and comedy beautifully in a simple but yet fulfilling story, with ghost element involved. Think of it as Hong Kong version of Hollywood's heat movie "Ghost" only that this one has more Chinese taste and is definitely better. The music is beautifully but yet not intrusive.
Without giving too much away, the movie has a slight twist at the end, though the observant audience would probably recognize it early on. The twist helps to tie the movie logically together.
Sammi gave a great performance as a newly-wed widow who transforms herself... She has trully become a magnificient performer and can hold a movie on her own shoulder.
Am zin (1999)
Good Beginning, Bad Ending
With Hong Kong heart-throb Andy Lau and veteran star Ching Wan Lau, "Aau Chin" has everything going for it for the beginning part of the movie, unfortunately, the movie falls apart at the end.
Andy Lau plays a sophisticated thief who only has 4 weeks to live, but still has one thing unfinished... He pulls an elaborated scheme tricking the police into helping him... However, the police is hot on his tail.... Can he pull it off before being caught?
The build up of the movie is good. Bits of pieces of clues are left behind for the audiences to try to guess at the real intention. Unfortunately, the build up leads to a disappointed final showdown. It feels as if in the middle of the script, the writer has changed and that all the build-up becomes disconnected.
A 3/10 ....
The Scariest Movie/Video Ever
Out of all the very good Asian horror movies recently: The Eye, The Ring, Dark Water, Phone, I consider this to be the scariest yet. The suspense build-up is excellent, the dark and creepy feeling, and as a bonus, thought provoking scenes that one has to tie together to get the complete story.
The movie is about a haunted house and how residents living in it are eventually affected. The whole story is presented in a series of loosely connected segments.
The first segment is about a social worker's visit to a child's house because the child did not show up at school earlier.
The second segment is about a home teacher's terror encountered in her student's house. The student also has a brother who has a gf recently.
The third segment is about the brother's gf's visit to the school. Very creepy.
The fourth segment is much shorter but it relies on the build up from the third segment. Saying anything will destroy this scene so I will not reveal much detail
The fifth segment is a continuation of the first segment. Some shocking revelations.
The final segment is about the real-estate agent trying to sell the haunted house...
Though the video is only 70 minutes long, the director has done a wonderful job in putting so much together on such a low budget
Lo Foo Ji (2001)
Plenty of Humor with no Depth
"Master Q" is a popular comic book series character in Hong Kong. Each comic book is usually made up of many different situational stories, with 8 frmaes making up a story in 1 page. In short, it is like the newspaper comics that you see in America but in a book form.
The comic style does not translate well into a movie of course, due to the length of a movie. So, the quiessence of "Master Q" has pretty lost in the movie. Insightful comments and thoughts have been translated into humor without depth in this movie adaptation.
The movie is about how Master Q and his 2 friends Mr. Chung and Potato are out looking for jobs but accidentally cause an traffic accident for Mandy (Cecilia Cheung) and Fred (Nicholas Tse). As a result, both have lost their memories and due to circumstances, they have become enemies... but then, true love will eventually reunite (with a lot of help from Master Q and Potato).
There are multiple subplots going on but they pretty much lack any depth. The humor is also very elementary and lack any sophistication. One gets the feeling that whether the movie could have done just as well without the cartoon characters as they become a sideshow merely to showcase the 3D CG technology.
A 4/10 on my book.
Good tension, weak plot
The movie is about a crew of anonymous sailors controlling the top secret Korean nuclear submarine known as the Phantom. Our main character became an unwilling crew when the government officially erased him from existence...
The premise of the movie is good, though it would make even a more interesting movie if that idea was exploited more. The war scenes involving the several submarine were rather unrealistic. Why didn't the Japanese submarine use active SONAR to search for remaining but had to endanger itself? I guess it is pretty typical to portray the incompetence of Japanese army in a typical Korean movie.
The acting was good. The tension was good.
One side note. This was probably the 3rd recent Korean movie that portrayed America negatively. I sense the rising Korean patriotism may be fueling this displeasures towards formal colonial master... Life imitates arts, and the changing attitude of Koreans towards America is showing...
Holiday in Seoul (1997)
Love and Loneliness
"Holiday in Seoul" is made up of 2 stories, loosely related to each other. In the first story, a bellboy falls in love with a leg model who stays at the hotel with her boyfriend, then her boyfriend dies in an accident... The second tale is about an insomanic taxi driver who finds love with a phone operator who loves a married man....
The movie is about the emptiness and loneliness that modern citizens experience, despite being in the company of people. Love is fleeting, capture every opportunity because it won't be there forever. Our heros are unable to speak from the hearts and therefore see the chances disappearing...
There is not much going on plot-wise. If you can relate to the experience of taxi driver and the bellboy, then you will enjoy this movie. If not, you may think it is stupid that why they didn't do something...
Tomie tried to imitate the recent brand of Japanese horror movies such as the Ringu but failed miserable. Non-sensical jumping around scenes, psychological horror not working, just some of the bad points about this movie.
The scariest moment came very early in the movie, that was, in the opening scene when an eye stared back at the viewer. Unfortunately, this picture was also at the front-cover of the movie, so you could just get the same scare by staring at the front-cover and skip the rest of the movie.
Poorly directed, poorly put together, poorly plot development. A passable horror...
Choyonghan kajok (1998)
Dark and Morbid Fun
The storyline: A Korean family bought a lodging hotel for bargain basement prices in a desolated location. Hotel guests were hard to come by but when the first guest finally arrived, he committed suicide. More guests started to show up... but things did not turn out the way they were hoping... A classic case of be careful what you wish for, because it may actually come true in unexpected ways...
Think of this as Korean version of the "Addams Family". This movie is a showcase of dark humor while several parallel subplots are going on. I especially like the acting of the youngest daughter Mi-na, her looks and mannerism epitomize the dark humor of the entire movie.
Not the funniest movie to come out from the Korea movie industry in recent years, but nonetheless quite enjoyable for those who like dark humor movies like Beetlejuice or Addams Family.
Paradise Villa (2001)
Mindful Plot; mindless violence
The story of this movie is simple. An on-line gamer has all his weapons stolen by another user named Viagra, so he tries to track down Viagra to get his weapons back. In the process, due to many coincidences, he ends up killing many people without getting what he wants. There is another parallel plot that a couple tries to hide a body. All these are happening under the subtext of the Japanese versus Korea football game in real time.
The movie is rather clever in telling us many details about the tenants within the short time frame, so we feel for them instead of a 1-dimensional victim to be killed. Underneath all the violence and sex, there is also a clever plot that one phone call started this all.
I enjoy this movie. It has the right level of violence and intrigue. The lesson of this movie is also intriguing. That young people of today are too obsessed with senseless violence on the on-line world and are ready to kill in the real world as well.
Mi hun dang (1995)
My Head Hurts...
My head hurts not from spiked drinks, but from watching this complete junk!
This movie has no plot, no dialogue, no acting, and even no gratuituous nude scenes for a category III movie. A complete disappointment.
A 0/10. I wish I can get my last 2 hours of my life back.
The Matrix Reloaded (2003)
Matrix reloaded: A choice between action and story
The original Matrix was fantastic because it had great special effects and a great story line.
Unfortunlatey, Matrix reloaded chooses to focus only on the special effects/actions and has very weak story. If you love the original Matrix due to the special effects, you will be pleased with this sequel as you will get 100x more. If you love because of the story line, you will be thoroughly disappointed.
I don't think I am impressed enough to see the next sequel.
Chin wong ji wong 2000 (1999)
Twisted but Funny nonetheless
A pretty good parody of the "god of gamblers" genre of movies. Stephen Chow gave a stoic but laughable performance as a retired god of gamblers who was forced into the gambling society. Nick Cheung tried too hard to be funny, but I found his scenes to be more childlish humor. Some scenes are sick, such as licking of the shoes for example.
Some very good looking women also appear in this movie: Kelly Lin as "First Love", an absolute stunning beautiful who was not afraid to expose her assets, and Suki Kwan as Pizza, Nick's fiancee in the movie.
There was not really a lot of original ideas in the movie. Some scenes spoof on Hong Kong TV commercials, so foreigners may find them humorless without making the mental connection.
As a whole, a 6/10
Zhi zun wu shang (1989)
One of the Better Gambling Movies
With a movie starring 2 top HK movie stars: Alan Tam and Andy Lau, you know that you are in a real treat.
The movie is simple, 2 best friends, both are gamblers. One decides to leave and join the good side, but old enemies won't let go of the past. Eventually, he has to face his enemy once again, in a final showdown at the casino table.
Good performance from both leading actors, who share pretty much equal screen time. The female leads also complement the movie very nicely, though their characters lack the depth.
Though movie tries to be logical, but there are logical holes, such as Lon's boss willing to make such a big bet on Lon's recommendation alone - that is pretty unbelievable. But one must suppress logic in watching a movie like this.
A 6/10 on my book
Xing yuan (1999)
Fly me to Hilarious
Call me mean for laughing at this obvious but awkward attempt to jerk tears out of the unsuspecting audience. I am not a heartless soul, but yet, this movie just tries too hard to play the melodramatic moments that I can't help to ponder that other movies of similar vein have done better jobs (e.g. Heaven Can't Wait).
The plot is simple: A blind man given a chance to return to Earth for 5 days to finish unfinished business, but there is a rule: he can't reveal who he is, and those who are close to him can't recognize him. So he returns to Earth to meet his long lost ones, only to meet competition...
You can't really call this plot original, so the movie must survive on its cast and its ability to move the hearts of the audience. As for the cast, Cecilia was quite good in her role. Unfortunately, Rickie (Onion) had just overacted his part. The transformation of him from a blind man, to a jealous boy friend, to a fulfilled philospher ready to accept his fate, only to become the lover again, all in a matter of 5 days, was just too incredulous. I guess when time is short, people do tend to achieve more.
But I can't forgive the film for its obvious attempts to jerk tears off the audience... Don't get me wrong, I would love a cry if the movie expresses genuine, deep, sad moments, but this movie just isn't. For a direct comparison, check out Heaven Can't Wait, now, that is a true classic which deserves a good cry over.
A 5/10 in my book.
Yee dou hung gaan (2002)
All the World is a Stage
Since I have the benefit to see this movie after Leslie Cheung committed suicide and all the news that came after it, I can't help but marvel at the irony between movie and real life... The depression, the drugs, love triangle, and the final moment of the movie.
Judging the movie on its own though... This is probably the 4th recent Hong Kong movie that came out dealing with the topic of "seeing ghost".. For horror scale, I consider "The Eye" has done the best job in scary factor, whereas this movie has its scary moments, but it focuses more on the plot and characterization. This is not to say that one is better than the other, they are just different.
POSSIBLE SPOILER BELOW:
I especially love the twist after the first half of the movie: the weak becomes the strong, the logical becomes the irrational, the imaginary becomes the real. Are there really ghosts? Or is everything just the imagination? Was Yan really cured, or did she continue to see but say nothing? Absolutely brilliant
END OF POSSIBLE SPOILER
All in all, a movie worthy to be Leslie Cheung's last (sadly enough). BTW, Leslie was nominated as best actor and too bad he did not win.
Siu ngo gong woo (1990)
The Flying People Saga
Swordsman was so popular in Hong Kong that it sprang two other sequels, which starred Jet Li. I consider this film to be a classic which started the whole "flying people martial art" movement in the 90's.
The movie is about a sacred scroll stolen from the vault of the emperor's palace. Different groups of people wanted to get their hands on the scroll, from the master of the Wan San school, to the Eunuches. Along the way, there are a lot of fighting, a lot of singing, comic relief, even an irony of how the most powerful martial art is no match against modern weapons (In Swordsman III - the east is red, this would have reversed, culminating in the quote "You have science, I have mysterious kung fu, your science is s**t")
The movie does not take itself too seriously. One of the best kung-fu/comedy/flying sword fights combination.
Shu shan zheng zhuan (2001)
I am not disappointed by the many special effects in this movie. In fact, this probably has the most/best special effects for a Chinese swords-fight fantasy movie that I have ever seen. It's much better than "A Man Called Hero" or "Storm Rider". You will not be disappointed by the special effects - this I guarantee.
However, the plot of the movie is rather weak... It is as if the plot is merely there trying to hold the special effects scenes together. Even the original "Legend of Zu Warriors" (circa 1980) had a better plot than this new one, which really is very sad because the plot of the original was not that good either.
But I watched this movie for the special effects mostly, so, I am not that disappointed.
Dip bin (1979)
The Birth of a great director
Who would have thought that this movie would open the door for one of the most legendary movie directors in Hong Kong film history. Although this movie came out almost 25 years ago, but it is like an old wine vintage that only gets better in time, the movie does not feel dated at all.
I checked out this movie to get a feel of what Tsui Hark was like in the beginning, I was not disappointed at all.
A true classic
"Sex and Zen" is trully a gem. It combines beautifully good looking women with gorgeous bodies, humor, plot, and ending with a moral. I think it inspired after copycat movies to follow, but then none that came after it could achieve the climax "Sex and Zen" had achieved.
Without giving too much away, watching "S&Z" is like watching a Hong Kong swordsplay movie but this is on the topic of sex. A trully unique experience that can only come out of Hong Kong movies.
A 8/10 on my book.
Honogurai mizu no soko kara (2002)
Don't watch this one alone
This is one heck of a scary movie. A true psychological horror that keeps you on the edge of your seat. The music, the gloomy scenes, and the great camera angles all work together beautifully to keep the scary element throughout the entire movie.
My only complaint is that the ending is sort of weak, but credit should be given to the director for using an unconventional ending. All in all, not as good as Ringu, but nonethless, this one is a keeper.
A 8/10 on my book.
Gongdong gyeongbi guyeok JSA (2000)
JSA - Just Satanize America!
I had high expectations before seeing this movie. After all, it was the highest gross movie ever in Korea with raving reviews, boy, was I disappointed....
* POSSIBLE SPOILER BELOW *
The movie has so many holes that probably the only thing with more holes is the insecurity of the border between Koreas as depicted in the movie. And what's with the American bashing? "If America started the war, both Koreas would be finished in minutes."...
I think if you grew up in Korea, you would be "indoctrinated" with the belief that the North and the South would eventually unify, that people were the same... This is probably why this movie is so popular - because it combines those 2 beliefs and gives people what they want to hear. I do not hold that belief, this is why I have trouble with all these glaring holes - the poreness of the border, the impossible belief that life-long enemies can make friends so easily, the American bashing, the carelessness of soldiers (especially they knew Choi's visits from time to time).
* END OF SPOILER *
Besides the holes, the movie is meant to be a suspense thriller? but the cat is out of the bag too early in the movie, so there is really no mystery. The movie also does not do justice in showing the full spectrum of how difficult building friendship and trust between 2 sides really is. You save my life, now we are friends, just doesn't cut it.
Major Sophie's English is another distraction. Her English dialog is rather awkward... Most of her scenes are pretty bad actually - I can't but laugh at how she is able to obtain Lee's/Oh's confidence... Why would they even trust her???
Bad movie, bad acting, bad plot...
Odoru daisosasen (1998)
Dark Humor Meets Detective Work
Odoru Daisosasen (Bayside Shakedown) is a detective movie on the surface. It centers around the case of the kidnapping of a police commissioner of the Bayside precinct. However, digging deeping, it is really a movie about friendship, dark humor, social satire, with comic relief.
This movie can stand on its own without the TV series, as I have not seen the TV series yet before watching the movie. Don't let that be a let-down.
The movie perfectly combines humor with seriousness. One just can't stop laughing at the ludicrosy inside the local precinct and the seriousness of the HQ. At the same time, the plot is fluid and coherent - with a nice surprise at the end to relieve the tenseness.
Go see this movie if you feel watching a coherent detective story with some laughable moments.
Gore or Bore
Cure is not a gore movie, despite how other reviews compare this to Se7en. There are some gore scenes but they are very minimal - to try to get the movie going.
Essentially, this is a psychological thriller to explore the mind of the "sophisticated" criminal, at the same time, it is the story to explore the life of a weary detective.
I've found many problems watching this movie from a logical mind. There are too many open questions that never get answered. At least for Se7en, the movie nicely ties up all the loose ends in the end, such is not the case for Cure. It is one thing to talk about the sophistication of the criminal mind, but it is another thing when the mind just does not make sense - and then cause other people not to make sense as well.
I also find the "shocking end" less than satisfying. More can be done to explain why it happens versus it just happens. The transformation of sanity into insanity is complex, the movie does not do justice in presenting this topic well.
A 2/10 in my book. For better movies on the same topic, I suggest Se7en.