Blog Archives

Nightfall (2012)

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Wong Yuen Yeung (Nick Cheung) gets a get-outta-jail card after doing 20 years for the rape and murder of a teenage girl called Yi Wan. He comes across Tsui Suet (Janice Man), a classical pianist who looks the spit of Yi Wan, and, like wow, crazy, she has the same father, Tsui Hon Lam (Michael Wong). So naturally Yeung follows her to her luxury home in the hills she shares with her parents and goes all creepily stalker, spying on … (read more)

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Bleak Night (2011)

For the KOFFIA festival I was given two films to review. Both films deal with young people. The other film, Silenced, dealt with the way adults can abuse the rights of the very young, in ways horrific and saddening. Here, in Bleak Night, it is the young people, mostly, whose own dealings with each other propel the tragic events at the film’s core.… (read more)

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Silenced (2011)

This is not a film that is easily reviewed. Dealing with an explosive topic — the physical and sexual abuse of children — and based on true events, it is one that cannot easily break the divide between the viewer’s own emotional response and a critical one. It’s fortunate, then, that Hwang Dong-hyuk’s direction is both thoughtful and forceful, worthy of the film’s text.… (read more)

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Bedevilled (2010)

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It is always interesting when folks see a film and call it ‘hard to classify’. Such was some of the pre-buzz I had heard about Jang Chul-soo’s debut film Bedevilled. Of course, not all films present themselves as classifiable genre flicks. But while some do so awkwardly (Cowboys and Aliens, anyone?), others deliberately skirt with and deconstruct genre conventions, and Bedevilled certainly does that. In fact, while the title resonates throughout the plot, it could be seen to … (read more)

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Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame (2010)

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Way back in my misspent youth (spent watching telly, mostly), there was one of those midday movies on the box that captured my imagination. Titled Judge Dee and the Monastery Murders, the film was, to my young mind, cheeky, fun, spooky, and a tantalising glimpse into a world I had never thought of: the China of over a thousand years ago.

Years later I stumbled across Barry Hughart’s terrific and delightful trilogy of novels of a China ‘that never … (read more)

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Ip Man: The Legend is Born (2010)

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Recently I watched Monsters, Gareth Edwards’ reasonably low-budget sci-fi and romance flick. Getting over the being-bashed-on-the-head subtext about racial inequality and the U.S.’ view of the poor and foreigners alike as ‘alien’, the film has a very gorgeous sense of cinematography. The landscapes are verdant, the cityscapes alive, rusted, and full of movement. Edwards’ film captures beautiful moments with economy and subtlety.

Why mention this? Because unfortunately the very next film I watched, immediately afterwards, was this film, Ip (read more)

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Yatterman (2009)

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Years ago, I saw Takashi Miike’s Gozu. When the film finished a certain reviewer behind me laughed for about a minute, then drew breath and exclaimed “What the f*ck was that all about?”

That’s Miike for you. And so welcome to Yatterman, a film that’s kind of like inserting that weird popping candy into your eyeballs. But not, as it happens, a WTF flick for the right reasons.

Yatterman was originally a ’70s anime on the telly that … (read more)

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Death Trance (2005)

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There’s an awful lot of biffo in ‘Death Trance’, which is to be expected from the Yuki Shimomura, the action director of the barking mad Versus making his directorial debut here.

And that’s pretty much the point of the film — there’s not too much interference from that pesky plot stuff. In fact, at one point, Grave, the vaguely androgynous anti-hero of the film, gets an explanation of back story from Ryuen (Takamasa Suga), the temple monk sent after him … (read more)

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