Superstar Lee Byung-hun (JSA, A Bittersweet Life, I Saw the Devil) gets to play the leading role twice over in Masquerade, a lavish South Korean costume drama set during the turbulent rule of King Gwang-hae of the Joseon Dynasty. (Wikipedia pegs this as 1608-1623, for those as ignorant of Korean history as I am.)
One role is that of young King Gwang-hae himself, maintaining his grip on his feuding court through political intrigue and … (read more)
It’s all coming up kaiju this year!
Inspired by Guillermo del Toro’s epic monsterpiece Pacific Rim and the upcoming 2014 Hollywood Godzilla reboot, I decided to set aside a few evenings and run through the Godzilla “Millennium Era” films and see what it’s all about really. Prior to these, I had only ever seen the classic 1954 film that started it all, and Madman have just released (and kindly sent us a review copy of) a box set, covering the … (read more)
Monsoon Shootout, which screened in competition at this year’s Sydney Film Festival, is the first feature film from Indian director Amit Kumar. A dark, introspective crime thriller, it takes as its subject the moral dilemma faced by a young policeman working in Mumbai’s slums, where gangland thugs face off against cops who don’t like doing paperwork.… (read more)
My first film at this year’s Sydney Film Festival was Outrage Beyond, the great Japanese director Takeshi Kitano’s follow-up to 2010’s yakuza film Outrage. Set in the same universe of gangsters in pinstripes, black sedans and sudden violence, it picks up the story some years after the events of the first film.… (read more)
South Korean director Jang Hoon followed up his 2010 hit Secret Reunion (a fun spy-vs-spy thriller that sold 5.5 million tickets, coming in second for that year’s box office) with this, his third feature: a gigantic war film set during the 1953 ceasefire at the end of the Korean War.
An entertaining, family-friendly mishmash of martial arts picture and Indiana Jones-style treasure hunt, Wu Dang shows off some serious talent both in front of and behind the camera, coupled with a stunning setting way up amongst the Taoist temples in the Wudang Mountains.
Vincent Zhao returns to the role of leading man after 2010’s True Legend, which was his first cinema appearance in quite some time, after spending most of the decade prior in television in Hong Kong and … (read more)
Retitled from Jukkalan, after its lead character, to the rather more bombastic This Girl is Badass, this film is omnipresent Thai comedian Petchai Wongkumlao’s (a.k.a Mum Jokmok) seventh movie as director, writer and actor. We don’t get all that much Thai cinema here in Oz, but even casual viewers of the nation’s output — like me — will recognise him as Tony Jaa’s offsider in the modern martial arts classic Ong Bak, open-faced, wide-eyed and occasionally very … (read more)
Failed — or at least distracted — actor Kinuta (Satoshi Tsumabuki) spends his days dismally holed up in front of a slot machine, a poster child for what we in Australia would call pokies addiction. Quiet and vulnerable, he is manipulated into taking a job he can’t turn down and joins a team of smugglers for the Yakuza: moving a truck full of things that need to pass unnoticed, often things that are suspiciously man-shaped.… (read more)