Reviews by Country
Competing in the 2015 Stockholm International Film Festival’s Documentary section, Behemoth is a visually striking documentary about the negative effects that coal mining in rural Mongolia have on the environment, and the lives and health of the coal miners. Although the film strives to connect the dots between the causation of air pollution in big cities in China like Beijing that is in part due to unchecked industrial development, such as coal mining and the running of steelworks, it is … (read more)
Before you flip out, no, I haven’t forgotten what the name of this website is, nor has it slipped my mind the general region from which the films reviewed here originate. That said, the chances of any Asian filmmakers tackling the thorny subject of activist Aung San Suu Kyi and the political stalemate in Burma (or Myanmar) are low. Asian film industries have limited resources and focus first and foremost on their own markets (India excepted). Add to that the … (read more)
I didn’t think I would see a better Cantonese film this year than Soi Cheang’s Accident – then along came Johnnie To’s Vengeance, a remarkable crime drama which ultimately transcends the genre.
A Hong Kong / France co-production, Vengeance is set mainly in Macau and stars French actor/singer Johnny Hallyday. Initially, Alain Delon was to be the lead but he pulled out and was replaced by Hallyday.
The opening twenty minutes are superb and announce to the audience that … (read more)
Vietnamese-French director Tran Ahn Hung’s Cyclo and The Scent of Green Papaya were exercises in style over substance. Atmospheric almost to a fault, both made you forget that great films possess a strong story to support their images. Unsurprisingly his latest, I Come With the Rain, is more of the same. Tran loads up the garden-variety revenge/redemption tale with enough religious imagery to make the Pope proud, mixing it with an audience-baiting (some would say calculated) international cast and … (read more)
It’s 1970 and centuries old half demon Saya (Gianna/Jun, My Sassy Girl) is on a revenge mission. Orphaned almost at birth, she was raised by Kato (Kurata Yasuaki), the mentor who taught her all about sword fighting and, apparently, demons. Saya’s looking for Onigen (television stalwart Koyuki), the oldest demon and the source of her misery. With her handler Michael (Irish veteran Cunningham) and his assistant Luke she infiltrates an American army base in Japan to eliminate some “bloodsuckers” … (read more)
Warning: District B13 is not an Asian film. It is made by French filmmakers, and it stars French actors. No doubt some of our readers will be asking: what is the review of this film doing on Heroic Cinema, the guide to Asian movies in Australia? Well, keep reading if you’re curious to find out the reason behind this madness!
The story is set in Paris. Faced with rampant crime in certain districts, the government authorises the construction of isolated … (read more)
I think the best word for this action film is probably “sumptuous”: costumes, locations, sets, characters, all rich and detailed. Another word, sadly, is “gristly”: the sound effects were particularly, well, effective. They conveyed quite realistically the sound of human meaty bits being torn asunder: one could almost discern the difference between bone-crunching and ligament-tearing noises. Not that one wished to, of course.
One might also wish to close one’s eyes during the opening sequence, unless one has a very … (read more)
Another well-named film, because this one will clear your sinuses and melt your nostril hair before you know it. Jean Reno plays Hubert, a cop who just won’t stop, and does so with an aplomb that only he can manage. Other cast members manage to convey their roles and not fall over their feet, but for all we care they could paint themselves blue and skate naked along the bullet train, and our eyes would still be on Reno.
Scenes … (read more)