Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Undistracting giant insects
This sounded goofy and I really didn't want to watch it but I did, and was pleasantly surprised by it.
Despite it being a small movie, the special effects were decent. Not great, but good enough to not be distracting, and this was really the key that made the movie watchable, since there were plenty of giant insects attacking people. The actors weren't bad, though largely forgettable, save for Ray Wise, who played the Devil in Reaper and amusingly hams it up here as the pooch-loving, ex-military father of the hero.
I didn't much care for the characters apart from Wise's, but the movie kept the action going at a good pace anyway and there weren't too many scenes where I got bored.
Yip Man (2008)
Great action, simple story
I'd heard a lot about Ip Man before finally watching it, and I think I was a bit biased by expectations though I tried to watch it objectively.
I can understand why the movie was as popular as it was. It's a tale of a real-life hero and features incredible martial arts choreography. Wing Chun, a seemingly defense-oriented style of kungfu, is amazing to behold, and surprisingly, I don't recall ever seeing it on screen before this movie. The movie's two action choreographers - one of whom is Sammo Hung - took home the awards in that category in Hong Kong and Taiwan.
The story, unfortunately, I found a bit too simple and bordering on hokey. Ip Man kicks butt, rallies the Chinese people, the end. I would've like to see some kind of background on him. He just simply exists and is a rich kungfu master with a wife and kid, or rather with a family that can be used against him to force him to fight. There's really not much else to his family. Or to him, for that matter.
Donnie Yen seems perfect for the role. He looks like a perfectly charming, non-threatening fellow, until you get him to fight and then you're on the floor with your nose bleeding the next second. He's also capable of looking as though in profound thought, even when there's nothing much to think about.
Watching brilliant kungfu thrills me as much as the next guy but I'd prefer to watch it either in an all-out action movie with a throwaway plot or as a masterpiece of direction with an engaging story to boot. Ip Man is the latter with a story that doesn't work for me, sadly. As such, I'm not too enthused about catching its sequel or unofficial prequel.
Daai cheung foo (2003)
A fun faux thriller
I'm not sure if "Men in Black" is supposed to mean something in Cantonese/Hong Kong but I was very amused by how they filmed this movie. Though it's a simple story of four men looking to play while their spouses/partners are away, it's set like a typical Hong Kong thriller, with action sequences, scenes of faux suspense, and even a twist that's revealed at the end.
The cast is uneven. The veterans are effortlessly good - Eric Tsang, Chapman To, Jordan Chan, Teresa Mo - but they make the newcomers pretty bad in comparison. Of the latter group, the only one I know is Candy Lo, and though I love her song "Rubbish," I don't think she's a particularly good actress. Not yet anyway. Neither is the cute young guy of the group, who mainly stands out because his name is inexplicably "Spirit Blue." I was wondering if he's a singer or something but no, apparently he's just a cute amateur actor with an odd stage name.
Theodora Goes Wild (1936)
Irene Dunne, from repressed to wild
I'm not a fan of Irene Dunne because - much like with Katharine Hepburn - she has these affectations in her acting style that you either love or can't stand. To me, she usually seems like she's hoity-toitily overacting.
As this movie began, I was pleasantly surprised by Dunne because she was playing a repressed small-town woman and thus didn't produce any of the grand gestures that are typical of her. Those come later (unfortunately), when she "Goes Wild," so to speak. I suppose the flashy role is why she got an Oscar nomination.
It's a unique story that plays out unpredictably, and that made it watchable, even if I didn't quite buy the relationship between Dunne and Melvyn Douglas, and found their characters kinda off-putting.
Gau yat: San diu hap lui (1991)
Watch it only if you're an Anita Mui fan.
Ugh. It's quite rare that the English title of a Hong Kong movie is better than the original Chinese one but I'm sure they gave this movie its Chinese name (which translates to '91 Condor Heroes) solely to capitalize on lead actor Andy Lau's popularity from his role as Yang Guo in the classic TVB series, Return of the Condor Heroes. Any connection between this movie and that series is loose at best and I didn't really pick up on it, especially since the plot of this movie is all kinds of ridiculous. Apparently Wong Kar Wai co-wrote this. No wonder it barely makes sense to me, ha.
The direction of this movie was bad as well - scenes could go from comedy to action to melodrama in the course of a minute without any regard for flow, though the fighting sequences, choreographed by luminary Corey Yuen, were good whenever there wasn't an over-reliance on special effects.
The dearly departed Anita Mui is classy in every role she plays. Yes, even in her dual role of the twin sister who gets shot in the butt.
As for Andy Lau and Aaron Kwok, well, there's a good reason why they only won their respective first acting awards 9 and 14 years after this movie.
A small, effective thriller.
I like to describe movies as "small" when they feature a small cast and so:
Frozen is a small, effective thriller that is best watched in the dark of your bedroom with a big screen TV. I say that because I got quite annoyed with the theater audience during its screening.
It's a simple premise done well. People are believably stupid enough to both take a ski lift at night just before bad weather arrives, and absent-mindedly strand skiers upon said lift while heading off to do whatever personal business they deem more important.
And so the three skiers find themselves way up high on a chairlift that has stopped operations for the next five days till the next weekend crowd. Simple, plausible, and a terrifying prospect (one of the reasons why I don't ski).
I was impressed with the writer/director, Adam Green. He carried out the human drama of three people panicking without making any of them too shrill and unsympathetic, conveyed effectively the increasing despair of realizing no one's coming to help, as well as managed great suspense with some scenes. It was with those scenes that I got annoyed with the audience. Because it's a fairly quiet movie, when the audience - especially the women - got nervous, they giggled nervously. I think I heard a squeal at some point too. Distracting.
The movie isn't perfect - there were some scenes when logic or plausibility is defied and the makeup could've been better - but it's definitely one of the best thrillers I've seen for a while.
Mei lai muk ling (2010)
A bad throwback to the "mo lei tau" comedies of the 80's and early 90's
This movie's a throwback to the "mo lei tau" (brainless) comedies of the 80's and early 90's, and stars probably the queen of them, Sandra Ng. Though she has since turned out many strong dramatic performances - including her Hong Kong Film Award-winning role in Portland Street Blues, she still churns out these schlocky features regularly, I guess because she has a strong fan base with them (I'm definitely part of that fan base).
That said, I was quite disappointed with this feature. Most of the jokes fell flat and in this day and age and even in Hong Kong, the gay stereotypes perpetuated in this movie were offensively over-the-top (and worse, not funny). I like the other lead actress, Charlene Choi (of the singing duo Twins), but her insouciant acting style always borders on amateurish and it takes a better movie than this to pull it off. The other actors were either bad or forgettable, save for the veteran old actor whose name I don't know - he plays Choi's father. I reckon being able to handle a "mo lei tau" role takes a lot more skill than it seems - it really is more than just overacting.
Gorgeous but not very cohesive
Oceans, though a documentary, is also quite a typical French movie in that it is confounding, since the French seem to celebrate the abstract. My reaction at the end of a few French movies has been "WTF."
I initially expected this to be an ecological "save our oceans" movies, but the first half of the movie played more like a "mysteries of the ocean" visual extravaganza in which they showed many creatures and sights I'd never seen before. Gorgeous.
All of a sudden it switches to highlighting the cruelty of man, with many bloody scenes such as live sharks having their fins cut off and being tossed back into the ocean to starve to death. And then it concludes with the expected "save our oceans" spiel, which I have to say is a whole lot less interesting than the rest of the movie. And not very motivating either. At the end of An Inconvenient Truth, I felt like I had to go out to do something to help save the world (I didn't but still), whereas Oceans left me mostly apathetic.
What this movie feels like is a string of visually spectacular clips of marine life, tied together as best they could by its directors into a barely-cohesive documentary. Its messages come across as incidental and unavoidable: "Well since we have these gory/sad clips anyway and since all documentaries about nature have to chastise humans."
It's not a bad watch if you're into nature documentaries but you're ambivalent, you might as well stay home and watch The Discovery Channel.
Easy Living (1937)
A lesser Preston Sturges feature
Perhaps it was because this was before Preston Sturges took over directing his own screenplays but Easy Living feels like one of the lesser in his body of work.
It does well as a screwball comedy but it isn't outstanding. As much as I love Jean Arthur, she isn't either, and Ray Milland just isn't suave enough to be a Cary Grant-esquire romantic lead. The cast just seems to be rolling along with the machinations of the plot, unlike say, Bringing Up Baby, in which Katharine Hepburn and Grant bring larger-than-life characters that prance along grandly with its screwball story.
Easy Living does have some memorable scenes though, including the one at the automat - a Depression-era fast food place - in which a grand ol' food fight breaks out, though admittedly, I find it more memorable because of how novel I think the concept of the automat is.
Cause for Alarm! (1951)
"Oh pleeeeease let me have my letter back!"
The premise sounded a bit far-fetched at first but upon further consideration, I think the story of a demented but cunning man wanting to frame his wife for his suicide could make a plausible movie even if it were set in current times (or at least an episode of CSI). Set in the 50's though, it all comes across as a tad too silly, when Loretta Young runs around pleading for the letter from whomever it's with. 5
I'm not really a fan of Young's acting, probably because she's often pigeonholed as a put-upon wife, which is a pretty limited role. At least her Oscar win for The Farmer's Daughter for playing a Swedish-farmgirl- turned-congresswoman was quite deserved - it was a juicy part and she was great with it.
Sit ting fung wan (2009)
A good thriller but the story could've been tighter.
I'm increasingly loving the direction that Hong Kong movies have taken in the new millennium - or rather, after the super success of Infernal Affairs in 2002 - towards taut thrillers full of action and twists and polish. However, while most look good on the surface, not many reach the level of quality that Infernal Affairs did (I much preferred it to The Departed, incidentally).
Overheard is about a trio from a police surveillance team who illegally use "overheard" insider trading information towards their own gains and have to face the violent repercussions that follow. Quite an interesting story but it wasn't as tight as I would've liked. I mean, oops one of them lets a witness see his face and oops that witness just happens to spot him again while about to flee the country - that's too much of a stretch.
The action's good though - there were some tense sequences - and the acting's decent. I'm a fan of Lau Ching Wan and though Louis Koo and Daniel Wu are overrated, they're adequate enough here. Actually I think I've never seen Koo better, though he looked much too pretty for his role.
An amazing performance by Kim Hye-ja in a great thriller
Well this was a big bag of depression. Great movie though.
A - one might say overly-devoted - mother goes to great lengths to prove that her mentally-handicapped son did not murder a young girl. It's an interesting setup for a thriller but not unique, so what makes the movie so good is really Kim Hye-ja's performance as the titular parent - the dedication to which she throws herself into her investigations risking danger and suffering abuse, and the devotion that she shows her ungrateful son. Oh, and the disturbing Oedipal scenes, yoiks.
Cinematographically, this movie was quite captivating too. There is much to admire in Bong Joon-ho's capture of small town South Korean life and he's also skilled at scenes of suspense - witness the mother tiptoeing past the sleeping gangster. A simple scene but full of tension.
Union Pacific (1939)
A good-looking production but too long a movie.
This is my first Cecil B. DeMille movie and it's enough to demonstrate his reputation for epic productions (that are more visual than substantial).
Union Pacific is about the titular railroad that runs from oh, somewhere to the West. It's based on US history at a time when the Americans were expanding from East to West (and ridding the country of those pesky Native Americans). The movie, at 135 minutes, takes quite a lot of time to explain the situation. It's kinda interesting so it's not a bad thing. What does make his production feel bloated though, is that the climax of the movie happens about a half hour before it actually ends, after which it just drags on as it attempts to tie up loose ends, much like The Return of the King.
Barbara Stanwyck is great as always, even if hearing her speak with an Irish accent the whole time is a bit distracting. Joel McCrea is forgettable again. I don't know how he does it but he alternates between captivating and forgettable on screen. I thought that maybe he stands out more in comedies but no, I remembered I first really paid attention to him in Hitchcock's Foreign Correspondent. I guess it just takes the right vehicle or director.
It would be easy to dismiss Arachnophobia as another lame creature feature but it's actually a pretty good one thanks to its special effects, which gets the spiders looking real enough to give an arachnophobe the willies. And the corpses that are desiccated by the spiders are cool and gross too.
I like the background story about the spiders but the setup for the main character - the doctor - is kinda wearisome. No one ever believes the big city doctor who's just moved into a small town. Zzz.
This isn't a scary movie but still it works, since the director knew to how to play up the tension. The spiders mostly don't jump out and kill someone but slowly creep up upon them and you're all "Omgomgomg." Well that's a bit of an exaggeration; it's not that tense a movie. Fun though.
Long Weekend (1978)
Whoa, there's that dead dugong again!
One of the first eco-horrors I think, but it joins the others in being pretty lame. At least it wasn't an overly ambitious grand-scheme effort (ahem, The Happening), being just a little story about an urban couple who go camping and do all sorts of inconsiderate sh*t to Mother Nature, who decides to take offence and sends her minions to sort them out.
There are some interesting scenes in the movie - a mysterious presence in the sea, a vicious possum, a reappearing dugong carcass - but a lot of the time it just shows an unpleasant couple who're out camping. The suspense and thrills just weren't there for me. I don't understand why so many people raved about it on IMDb. Must be environmentalists, all.
El habitante incierto (2004)
I wish the movie had stuck to its premise
Grr. I was really looking forward to this thriller since it has a high IMDb rating and a cool premise: "What if... you let a stranger into your house to use your phone, but while you've been patiently waiting in the kitchen, he just disappears...".
For the first half-hour, it looked like the movie was gonna deliver, but then it takes an abrupt turn into Bizarro Land, in which the stalkee in turn starts stalking some paraplegic woman whose husband had disappeared apparently while tunneling under their house to the initial stalkee's house for some reason. WTF. I'm not sure but I don't think everything was fully explained by the end. (I'm not sure because these mindf*ck movies often escape me.)
The movie was directed and written by Guillem Morales. I'll buy him as the former but not the latter. The direction was good. There was a lot of suspense, some involving scenes in which the ex-stalkee had to hide in a hurry while avoiding the paraplegic woman in her own home. Not as exciting as having to avoid a psycho killer in one's own home but Morales managed to keep my interest anyway.
Hung chak (2005)
A cold little movie
This was a random little horror movie I stumbled across and no wonder it stayed little. What a snooze.
It stars Maggie Siu (whose most memorable role for me is "Siu Chiu" in the 80's TVB Heaven Sword and Dragon Sabre) as a bad mother. The problem is that's not what the role's meant to be, just that she's depressed or something and the director has her painted in a totally unsympathetic light. That keeps the audience at a further distance from what's already a cold movie, in which there's not a lot of score, action, or even dialogue.
The story is reminiscent of The Sixth Sense, in that the daughter sees ghosts at home and the mother doesn't believe her. Sadly, there's where the similarity ends as it progresses into a boring tale of how the mother and daughter's lives parallel the ones of the ghosts. It wouldn't be so bad if there were scares and tension but nope, the movie's pretty lame.
Clash of the Titans (2010)
Adequate but unremarkable
I'm pretty sure I watched the original Clash of the Titans and forgot to rate it. Now I have no idea what I thought of it. Anyway, there is enough of a deja vu from having watched Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief.
This movie was quite adequate in terms of special effects and action, but unremarkable in every way (I say that now that it's been 3 weeks since I've watch the movie and I'm hard-pressed to remember any good scene). Sometimes the special effects were too obvious - as with medusa and the kraken - but at other times it looked pretty good. The story, meh. I don't know which bits were the original mythology but it all felt too manipulated towards its inevitable conclusion. And I'm pretty sure Zeus can't resurrect anybody without getting Hades to do it.
I'd like to comment on Sam Worthington but I can't. If he had been painted blue, I would've thought I were watching Avatar. He hasn't really been given a chance to progress beyond emo action hero. Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes are both hammy and disposable. I think they really should've gone with legends for the roles of gods, like how they had Laurence Olivier and Maggie Smith in the original.
Enervated characters lead to an enervated audience
I watched the US remake of this years ago and that was totally crap - I gave it a very rare '1'. But since US remakes of Asian movies are stereotypically that way, I still had high hopes for this movie.
Ngh. While director Kiyoshi Kurosawa got the mood right, it wasn't a particularly scary movie, which is the darnedest thing, since he managed to build up a good amount of tension in some scenes and yet they deflated.
The story is semi-interesting and semi-WTF. Actually, I'm kinda reading the Wiki summary as I'm writing this and it seems a lot more interesting than what came across in the movie - maybe because I got kinda bored and tuned out at some point. I think the problem with having a lot of enervated people with a gloom-and-doom ambiance is that it'll take a lot of skill to not have the movie enervate the audience too, and Kurosawa didn't pull that off, in my opinion.
The Crazies (2010)
Since they aren't technically zombies, they are... Crazies
Kinda a stupid title for a movie that isn't a tongue-in-cheek horror comedy, though I guess since they aren't technically zombies, they are... Crazies.
It wasn't a bad movie otherwise. Not too original - I know it's a remake but having not seen the original, I thought this version was like any other zombie movie anyway, albeit with a touch of sci-fi. It was also more action than horror, which was fine, since the action was good. I wish the movie had been tightened up more - 11 minutes off its 101-minute run would've made the pacing much better - but the extra time was used in character development and since leads Timothy Olyphant and Radha Mitchell pulled off their roles well, I didn't mind it too much.
A doozy of a title and a doozy of a movie.
This might be the first solely Icelandic movie I've ever watched and it's not a bad one, really. It's set in Reyjavik, has an international cast, and is mostly in English.
The background story is amusing: A bunch of tourists go whale-watching but are beset upon by Icelandic redneck fishermen who're sore about environmentalists halting their livelihood of whale-hunting.
It's a slasher movie but with some welcome black humor. It's also filmed pretty well, with grainy shots for ambiance. I've two issues with the movie, one being the misogynism at the start of the movie. At least the movie shows it's not homophobic, since it has a heroic non-nelly gay man.
The other issue is the twists in the story. I have no idea how the movie ended the way it did. It has to do with a certain character who does an about-face in the middle of the movie and changes motivations and I'm not sure why... Maybe I wasn't paying enough attention, I don't know. Anyway, this was a fun and exotic slasher movie.
Shuang tong (2002)
Not enough horror
I always like it when East meets West so I had high hopes for this movie, which is a horror with Tony Leung Ka Fai and David Morse as the two collaborating cops investigating a series of supernatural deaths. They're both good actors so it's very disappointing that the movie decides to focus more on Leung's background melodrama than the supernatural elements of the story. I mean, they plugged this movie as a horror, so I didn't really need to know about his exposing corruption on the police force, his crazy criminal cousin, or his apparent lack of a sex drive. And when the few horror scenes do come on, they sometimes wander into FX-ed out fantasy sequences that don't work.
Rene Liu won best supporting actress at the Hong Kong Film Awards for this movie and I've no idea why. She's not unconvincing but it's not much of a role. Sometimes I think the Hong Kong-ers judge acting by different standards - many of their past winners have been quite inexplicable.
Chuang xie xian sheng (1988)
Average slapstick with charming leads
This is a decent HK slapstick comedy, starring one of my favorite comediennes, Carol Cheng. It's not a great movie by any standards, but it rises above average thanks to its two charming leads - Carol and Kenny Bee - and its supporting cast, which includes perpetual "mo lei tau" staple, Chan Pak Cheung (Chen Bai Xiang).
The story is nothing to marvel about, but it's coherent enough, and the cast quite ably carries it along well enough so that I didn't pause to consider how stupid it is. And at least there are a couple of funny scenes that stick to mind, including the one where the then-young and nubile Carol teaches aerobics and the one where Kenny demonstrates why he can't be near women.
Geung see sin sang (1985)
Probably the original Taoist priest thwarts zombie-vampires horror comedy
This is probably the original horror comedy that spawned like ten sequels and a thousand rip-offs about a Taoist priest, his apprentices, and their misadventures controlling and/or thwarting Chinese zombie- vampires. Such movies were a big part of my childhood so I will always have a soft spot for them.
This one stars the inimitable Lam Ching Ying, who was THE Taoist priest, as well as Ricky Hui of the three Hui comedian brothers, and Moon Lee, the kung fu-trained cherubic actress. It was up for an amazing amount of Hong Kong Film Awards, considering its genre.
Not that it wasn't deserving. No one can alternate between kicking vampire ass and deadpanning lines like Lam can. And I like that the movie doesn't get stupid like its sequels will. It may be often silly, but it doesn't stoop to go for the cheap laughs like the hundreds of 'C' movies the Hong Kong movie factory churned out back then.
Geung see ga zuk (1986)
Poor (and unrelated) sequel
No story relation to the first but also starring Lam Ching Ying and Moon Lee, along with Yuen Biao, one of the three well-known members of the Painted Faces group. Like Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung, he's a gifted comedian as well.
Unfortunately, like all sequels rushed out to capitalize on the success of the first, this movie is quite unoriginal in its humor and what's worse is that it includes a (vampire) child, probably to make the movie more accessible to children and grandparents. There is nothing for the kid to do except "act cute" and the villains aren't really even villains 'coz they're just vampire parents who want their child back. The fight scenes are decent but they made a main one really stupid by having everyone move in slow motion.